Posts Tagged 'missionary kids'

Tuesday Topic: Involving Children in Language Learning

From Amie heading to South Sudan: How do you involve your kids in language learning?

(If you would like to pose a “Tuesday Topic” question, please email it to . Provide your blog address if you would like to be linked to, and specify also if you would like to remain anonymous. Thanks!)


Enjoying the Journey


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?

Sweet Confused Multi-Lingual Children


One of my absolute favortie things about getting to serve overseas is the fact that my kids are getting the opportunity to learn a second language! It is so adorable to hear Russian words and phrases coming out of their little mouths. For today’s post and question, I thought we could share some of those cute stories!

Here are mine:

1)My daughter (3 and a half) loves the old cartoon version of “The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe,” except that the word “wardrobe” is a bit strange for her since we never use it. We do however use the Russian word for wardrobe (“shkoff”) all the time because we have several “shkoffs” in our home and it is just easier to say than “wardrobe.” Whenever my sweet daughter asks if she can watch her favorite movie, she says, “Mommy, can I watch “The Lion, The Witch, and the Shkoff?”

2)Also, my son (one and a half) has been responding to questions with “niet” rather than “no,” and prefers to say “paka” over “bye-bye.” He also often says “foo-ka-ka” instead of “yucky.”

3)My daughter LOVES to run up the old women in our community and shout “Babushka!” as she gives them a big hug. The “babushkas” here love it. I am just waiting for the time, though, where this happens in America on our furlough this summer! Should be hilarious!

4)We were eating “pelmeni” (traditional Russian dumplings) one day, and after finishing her bowl, my daughter exclaimed, “Look! I ate all of my pelicans!”

Ok, now it’s your turn! What is the cutest/funniest things your kids have said? Feel free to share even if it wasn’t in a foreign language!

Are they missing out?

Little Swimmer
One thing that I struggle with periodically is the temptation to feel guilty and like my kids are going to miss out on things or be deprived of certain experiences that I considered crucial to my growing up experience. I love reading the blogs about my friends kids at home who often go to children’s museums, play groups, pre-school, out-door wading pools, dance classes, and who have back yards with grass and swing sets, etc, but I  can be tempted to feel a bit jealous and bad for my kids who will miss out on a lot of these experiences given our lifestyle. Do you ever feel that way?

It is so easy read all of these things that supposedly make for happy kids and well rounded kids and to wonder if my kids are going to be deprived because they didn’t get to do all the fun activities, didn’t have nice parks to play in, and in general just don’t have a lot of the great luxuries that we left behind. You’d think that being separated from the culture in which these things exist in abundance would make for less of an awareness of them, but with the blessing of keeping up with the world via the internet, there are some downsides. It is easy for me to get hear what other people (aka. the baby/kid industries) say my kids “need” and to end up feeling bad for them, until I finally lift my eyes a bit to the bigger picture. Of course as I sit back and write this, it is more than obvious to me that my kids have a rich childhood, but in day to day experiences, sometimes it doesn’t feel that way.

I often am reminded that kids around the world throughout all of history and even now have been raised without most of the things that our American culture tells us we need. I served in East Asia for a year before I was married, and one of my closest friends there told me how her family was very poor and how during her childhood she only had one doll, and that other than that  she played with sticks, rocks, old buckets, and old things from around the house. She said that though she didn’t have many toys, she treasured her one doll dearly and had a wonderful and rich childhood that she often thinks back on with great fondness.

My kids have SO many toys, and they don’t really learn to appreciate the vast majority of them! As much as I can be frustrated by our American culture that tries to sway me into discontentment,  I am also so thankful for the counter-revolution going on today. Perhaps it is a quieter voice, but it is there. There are a number of parents and organizations  encouraging simplicity and the mindset that happiness is not purchased or manufactured through a multitude of classes and purchased items. How refreshingly biblical!

Seriously, my kids are never happier than digging around in the mud, throwing rocks into puddles, and playing with a bucket of rice and a few cups at the kitchen table.

Then there is the whole other side of the picture where I remember that my kids get to experience a different culture, learn a second language, travel the world, and see God changing hearts and lives here in Russia, but somehow it is so easy to get distracted from these amazing blessings if I let my heart and mind stray too far from the source of true contentment…

‘Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”‘- Hebrews 13:5 (ESV)

Any thoughts? Have you struggled with this in your own life? How have you battled the temptation to feel like your kids are missing out (whether because of living overseas or trying to live frugally in the US)? It would be great to hear your thoughts!

(picture courtesy of

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.