Archive for the 'Third Culture Kids' Category

Transitions

Our little Jonathan recently began school – a first language French school – for the first time. Yesterday, as he was sharing with us about his day, he told us about working on saying and writing the alphabet (which he already knows, as he is a beginning reader… in English). Suddenly, he stopped and exclaimed: “And Mama, did you know they say zshee for ‘J’ and zshay for ‘G?’ THAT. IS. JUST. WRONG!!!”

We JUST don’t like change, do we? We tend to resist anything that pushes, prods or pulls us from a place of the comfortable recognized to the uncomfortable unknown. Jonathan expressed that rather eloquently, I think, and while we laughed (and laughed… for the look on his face as that realization dawned on him was priceless), my mind was drawn to the present struggles of our present state of transition.

One of the reasons this transition has been more challenging is that we are subleasing a home for a year… someone else’s home, someone else’s furniture, someone else’s guards… after having already “been there, done that” the past year in a missionary house back in the States (I’m not trying to complain, for we are so thankful for both of those provisions, yet this is our reality). So it feels like home, but it isn’t quite… Without a doubt, it is emotionally harder to move back and forth with secondary school children ~ teens. They’d just found where they belonged and we uprooted them to return to a place that isn’t what they left the year before. So, they are back to figuring out where they belong once again when they’d anticipated coming home. But people leave; others grow, looking and sounding different; still others change and have new priorities or a different direction – nothing remains static and so it just isn’t the same.

As I’ve pondered and prayed – then realized that I should first pray and then ponder: How are we to shepherd our children through this time, the Holy Spirit directed my meditations to perhaps the most well known words in the Bible about what it looks like to be a good shepherd.

The LORD is my shepherd;

I have all that I need.

He lets me rest in green meadows;

He leads me beside peaceful streams.

He renews my strength.

He guides me along right paths,

bringing honor to His name.

Even when I walk

through the darkest valley,

I will not be afraid,

for you are close beside me.

Your rod and your staff

protect and comfort me.

You prepare a feast for me

in the presence of mine enemies.

You honor me by anointing my head with oil.

My cup overflows with blessings.

Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me

all the days of my life,

And I will live in the house of the LORD

forever.

Psalm 23 (NLT)

When God blessed us with children, He gave us the privilege of becoming shepherds… one more way we can learn to imitate our God and our Savior. So I read these words, words first stamped onto my heart over 35 years ago, gentle words reminding me how the Good Shepherd cares for me and see a very practical example of how I can shepherd my children.

A doer, it was the verbs that caught my attention. What are things I can do to help my children?

· I can let them rest, making sure our home is a place of security, fun and respite from the stresses in their worlds all around them.

· I can lead – with my words, my actions, my attitudes, my life. Do I approach the challenges with a gentle spirit, accepting and welcoming God’s sovereignty and excited to see what He will do because I know He will work?

· I can renew: revamping harried schedules, repairing wrong attitudes and beliefs, restoring tired hearts, making good on promises and things I’ve said, renovating to salvage the bad and hard days.

· I can guide, showing them again and again that we run to Jesus with our celebrations, challenges and sorrows.

· I can protect through disciplining, both myself and my children as necessary.

· I can comfort, often just by caring about the hard, seemingly little things.

· I can prepare a feast… healthy, nutritious snacks and meals that I know will delight my family… and that time of preparation is a wonderful time to pray for them… or to encourage them to work alongside me and share about/pray through their days.

· I can honor them: respecting their feelings, attitudes and perceptions even when they need repair, admiring their accomplishments and the person God is growing them to be, giving credit where credit is due, protecting their reputations, remembering that they, too, are heirs of the King.

· I can pursue them with goodness and unfailing love, whose source is, of course, the Good Shepherd.

And most importantly, I can trust that in following the example of my Shepherd, He will open the eyes of my children so that they see their cup, too, overflowing with blessings from heaven.

(Post by: Richelle)

Schooling Overseas- An Introduction

For the next week or so, we’re doing a series that will hopefully be interesting and useful as we discuss one of the biggest decisions that we are faced with as we raise our children in another culture. That question as you may have guessed is how we choose to educate our children. Though the decision can be a tough one with so many factors involved, compared to the lives of the missionaries a century ago, we really are blessed to have such a variety of options available to us!

My vision for this coming week was hopefully to share with you some facts as well as various missionaries’ true experiences with each option, and of course to open up each topic for discussion so we can gain wisdom from one another. I hope you will take time to ask the questions that you have if you are in the deciding process, and for those who have kids who are grown or who currently have school aged kids, I hope you will share your wisdom, advice, and experiences with us.

Being that my oldest has only entered preschool this year, I wanted to let you know that I have been researching this topic and inviting the wisdom and input of a number of missionary moms in order to compile this series. The last thing that I ever hope to do is offer advice that I am not qualified to give, so rather than doing that, I present these posts as sort of a creative “research project” of sorts that will hopefully draw from the wisdom and experience of many others and put them neatly into an accessible series.  Thank you so very much to all of the amazing ladies who took the time to share about their experiences, and thank you in advance for the wisdom that will be shared in the comments!  I hope you enjoy this little series!

Do you have school aged kids, or are your kids still little? If you have school aged kids, do you see them continuing in their current option until graduation, or do you foresee a change? If you have little ones, have you already decided on the first option that you plan to try?

(Post by: Ashley)

Enjoying the Journey

tck

I listed the book “Third Culture Kids” in the sidebar awhile ago, and if you don’t already have it, it is a great resource. We got it at our organization’s cross-cultural training and it has been such a help as we prepare to meet the unique needs that our children will as they are raised overseas.

I was just reading through part of this book and came across a great chapter called “Enjoying the Journey.”  It is about creating stability and an enjoyable experience for your kids as they are raised cross-culturally. Here is a summary, but please check the book out for yourselves!

1) Set aside special times for family and make family traditions. This is of course important in every family, but especially in our lifestyle that is often full of transition and where it can be difficult to establish identity. Having deep relationships, quality times together, and special traditions helps create stability and identity and a sense of being known.

2) Build strong ties with the community. Though our kids don’t live close to their extended family, we can help them build valuable relationships with those on our team, in the ministry, and in our community that will become like aunts, uncles, and grandparents to our kids. Of course they will never take the place of true family, but these relationships are also very special and will have a special impact on our children. I love how our team members have always been my kids’ substitute aunts and uncles.

3) Build strong ties with relatives. Though we live far away from family, these relationships are incredibly important and should be continually deepening. We live in a blessed time where there are so many ways to make this happen. (See here for a few ideas). One idea highlighted in this chapter as being incredibly valuable for building these close relationships is to have family come visit your family where you live if possible. That way family members can understand our kids (and us too) when we talk about our daily life. We have been so blessed to have both sets of grandparents, and 2 of our kids 3 aunts and uncles come out to visit. It was so special to be able to show them our world and it is amazing to be able to talk with them now and to know that they can visualize what we are talking about!

3) Build strong ties with friends. Not only is this important for their enjoyment of life in general, but it helps kids to adjust to their culture. Friends from the past are also important as they can “validate the TCK (third culture kid) experience and prove that the third culture world and experiences aren’t a dream.”

4) Return to the same “home” during each leave. This also can help with stability and identity. It is helpful for a TCK to have one place (city, not specifically a house) to identify as home in their passport country. I know that this isn’t always possible though, especially when extended family is split across the country and the value is building those relationships. It does help with stability though to have the same school, church, friends, etc. to return to.

5) Tour when traveling between countries. What a blessing to “have to” travel the world! Taking time between destinations (like staying a day or two rather than an hour or two for a layover) is a great way to expand our kids’ world view all the more as well as to create some amazing memories.

6) Explore and become involved in the surroundings. “Don’t neglect actively learning about the history, geography, and culture of the host country.” Often times when grown TCKs talk about their experiences, this is a highlight. On the flip side, this book mentions that a common complaint of TCKs is that they regret not being more involved in their surrounding culture and wish they would have really been able to make the most out of that amazing learning experience.

7) Acquire “sacred” objects. I love this one. This is the idea of collecting special objects that in a sense become a child’s “portable history.” Special memories are attached to these possessions, and they can be very comforting to TCKs as they travel from place to place throughout life. It helps them “connect all of the places and experiences of their lives.”

Also, here is an interesting link to some resources on TCKs that I stumbled across. It isn’t from exclusively a Christian perspective, but it seems to have a lot of resources that might be helpful or interesting. I am looking forward to checking out some of the blogs of TCKs that are listed, just to hear first hand what kids feel are the highlights and hard parts of their experiences.

What other things have you heard or are you making sure to do in order to help your children really love their experience as a TCK?


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