In reading up on the TCK phenomenon, I keep coming across the term ‘Cross-Cultural Kids’.

Ruth Van Reken and Paulette Bethel found people who said: ‘I feel like a third culture kid, but I don’t fit the model!’.

These people, who were not traditional TCKs, felt similar issues of loss and grief. Bethel and Van Reken called them ‘Cross-Cultural Kids’, because, as children, these people had lived across cultures (or sub-cultures):

  • Traditional TCKs Children who move into another culture with parents due to a parent’s career choice,
  • Bi/multi-cultural and bi/multi-racial children Children born to parents from at least two cultures or races,
  • Children of immigrants Children whose parents have made a permanent move to a new country where they were not originally citizens,
  • Children of refugees Children whose parents are living outside their original country or place due to un-chosen circumstances such as war, violence, famine, or other natural disasters,
  • Children of minorities Children whose parents are from a racial or ethnic group which is not part of the majority race or ethnicity of the country in which they live,
  • International adoptees Children adopted by parents from another country other than the one of that child’s birth,
  • “Domestic” TCKs Children whose parents have moved in or among various subcultures within that child’s home country,

Bethel and Van Reken note that these children are often in more than one of these circles at the same time. For example, a traditional TCK may be also from a minority group, and a child of immigrants may have parents from two different cultures.

I find it interesting that many of my close friends fall into one of the categories above.


Paulette M. Bethel & Ruth E. Van Reken: Third Culture Kids: Prototypes for Understanding Other Cross-Cultural Kids, (web-site under renovation as of 29 Dec 2008)

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