If you are moving countries with your family, it’s important to think about what your children need for a smooth transition. Whether your child is an easy-adapting Third Culture Kid or has a bit more difficulty with the transition, fact remains that you as parents play a significant role in managing the transition for your child. Here are some tips on how you can help your TCK during the transition phase:
Read young children stories about emigration or about their new country. Let your adolescent read books or watch documentaries on these subjects. Some book tips for TCK’s to read:
- Pixies new home (for young children)
- Slurping soup and other confusions (4-12 years old)
- Expat teens talk (teenagers)
Make a treasury box with your child’s favorite things and give it a prominent place in your new home.
Keep communicating with your child, don’t judge and listen carefully. All children have to go through the process of saying goodbye to their old home and get used to their new environment. Younger children often express themselves indirectly, for example through play or creativity. For adolescents it is important to genuinely listen to your children and refrain from giving clear-cut and practical solutions to their emotional problems.
Let your children play an active part in making plans for the new country and let them have a sense of autonomy, within boundaries. Discuss with your family what sort of hobbies they’d like to engage in, how they would like to see their room and what sort of family activities you can do.
On a final note: whatever culture your child grows up in or identifies with, being a Third Culture Kid will probably make your child identify most with other Third Culture Kids. Even though having multiple homes can feel enriching, it can also make your child feel lost whenever you return to your ‘home country’. After all: your home is not their home. Unless you’ve been a TCK yourself, it is very difficult to grasp this feeling of non-belonging. Acknowledging your child’s feelings and communicating about them is a very important part of being an expat-parent.
Raising a Third Culture Kid can be very demanding for parents as well. The stress of building a life both for yourself and your kids and getting the help you need can lead to anxiety, feelings of depression and other complaints. Are struggling with parenting a Third Culture Kid and looking for psychological support? Feel free to contact us.