‘I will not put my children through the cultural transition and confusion I experienced as a child. My children will grow up in their birth country with what I never possessed: a strong sense of cultural belonging.’

This was my inner monologue for years after giving birth to our first child. But that nudge to think global continues, and we’re suddenly considering expatriate work.

It’s scary. I know the possibilities, both positive and otherwise. It’s easier to behave like the proverbial head-hiding bird, pretending that it’s best to live in the West, earn lots of money and be global by donating some of said money to charitable causes. It’s right for some, but not all.

‘You know, you can’t protect your kids in Australia,’ said a friend.

She’s right. Among other things, we have here alarming rates of child abuse (the suspected rate being much higher than the reported one), the prevalence of drugs even in primary schools, the growing rates of teen promiscuity, suicide, depression… This western world is scary too.

Of course, being a TCK doesn’t save you from abuse, drugs, teen promiscuity, or depression. Being a TCK can carry extra complications, including loss and grief from frequent cultural transitions.

But in one sense my husband and I are on familiar ground. We probably have a better understanding of how to parent in an environment of high-mobility and cross-culture, than in the mono-culture we now live in. We know the rules (albeit changeable ones) in the world of TCKs.

What of the loss, grief and pain? We can’t shield our kids from that. It’s part of the package and baggage of TCKs. And recently, I have been processing loss and grief from my own childhood.

Some weeks ago I met a parent of TCKs. When he heard of our background he smiled, saying, ‘The TCK experience makes one flexible and resilient.’

Funnily enough, thinking about my kids becoming TCKs has made me realise the richness of TCKs’ lives. My husband and I chattered in other languages as children. I was six when I first touched and breathed in fine sand blown from the Sahara. We went on safaris before we were ten, and both grew up with incomparable African harmonies and dancing. My husband has met ‘Mosi-oa-Tunya’, the smoke that thunders – Victoria Falls herself. We know intimately those exquisite moments in a plane at take-off and landing. Waiting for long hours in wildly-different airports can be an adventure. We have lived in climates that are hot, climates that are humid, climates that are dry, wet, cold. Some places we lived in or visited were affluent, others not so, some were cities, some towns, and others rural villages. We have seen some incredible sights, and made incredible friends. I can’t fit a complete list in this post!

We look forward to introducing our children to the riches of our own heritage.

Does anyone have advice to give TCKs who turn expats, creating little TCKs of their own? Please let me know, either by leaving a comment on this post or, if you prefer not to leave a public comment, you can email me using the private form on the Contact page.

Thanks all for reading!

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3 Responses to “Let’s make a Third Culture Kid or two”

  1. Hiya!

    I actually was really curious about this issue so I ended up writing an article about this… there are all sorts of struggles involved in raising a TCK — but from the parents that I talked to, it seemed like the benefits outweighed the consequences.

    http://www.denizen-mag.com/?p=343

  2. Hi Steph!

    Really appreciate you stopping by – your article is great, has some really valuable insight into this topic. I’m going to bump your comment up to a post 😀

    Take care!

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