Monday, 20 July 2015

Being a parent to third culture kids –bridging the gap from here to home?

As a parent there is nothing more important than the happiness and wellbeing of your children, so moving abroad can be a very daunting prospect. It’s normal to question how well you and your family will cope but these nerves can be eased with our top tips for bridging the gap between here and home.

One of the worries for a child moving abroad is losing touch with friends and family. Whilst a short 12 month expat jaunt might not damage your long-term friendships back home, for children a year apart can feel like an age. In the digital age, there no longer needs to be a clean break, but that certainly doesn’t make staying in touch easy. Social media, photo sharing sites and video calls might cross vast distances effortlessly, but they still can’t time travel. Before you decide exactly where you will move to, remember to work out when exactly your children will be able to schedule the odd video call with home.

Although, social media has completely changed the way expats of all ages keep in touch, it’s still no substitute for seeing each other in person. Without face to face interaction any child’s friendship can start to fade, so it’s vital to take regular trips back home during school holidays or even consider inviting school friends up to visit.

Creative Commons / Lzy881114
It’s also important to make your host country feel like home, no matter what length of time you are there. If you’re in India pick up a taste for Tarka dal or build snow sculptures during Japan’s Sapporo Snow Festival. It’s great to share these new experiences with your little ones but other young expats from school can help to guide your little ones through new experiences. Embracing the new culture doesn’t have to mean losing touch with the latest trends and fashions back home however. Culture moves quickly, especially for teens, so make it as easy as possible to sit down and watch the latest blockbuster or import the new big children’s book.

Cutting the dead time is a good way to ensure your children quickly get into the swing of their new lifestyle. Move your family a week or two in advance of a new school term. This way your children have time to recover from their jetlag and explore their new surroundings before going off to school. By moving close to a new school term your children will quickly start to make friends and settle into their new daily routine. The best way to stop children from being home sick is to occupy them.  If their busy having fun they’ll forget to miss home.

Finally, just relax and try not to worry too much! In the long run your children will appreciate the experiences that come from living abroad. No matter how hesitant they are now, in the future they will see the advantages that come from living abroad. Living in a foreign country can be a rollercoaster of highs and lows but children often come out the side a little wiser than their parents.

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