Today's guest post is from MaDonna Maurer. MaDonna is a non TCK from a small town in the US who met her German TCK husband while teaching at an international school in China. Having been married to her husband for over fifteen years now, she has gained much wisdom from him and learned how to live overseas. She has now lived in nine different homes and she continues to raise her lovely children in each of these homes. Find out more about her and her family in her blog here.
Most new parents buy books about raising kids. They want to know what to expect at each month, how to handle tantrums, or even how to help make a smooth transition for an adopted child. Parents who choose to raise their kids overseas should also spend time learning about third culture kids – a.k.a TCKs.
I’m not a TCK- but I’ve been around them for the past sixteen years. I am not an expert by any means, but I’ve learned a few things in the last few years and well, being married to one sure hasn’t hurt any either. If you are like me, a monoculture kid, or if you are a TCK but new to this concept and now parenting some little TCKs here are some ideas that might help you gain some more insights.
1. Research the topic – This is an easy one, but still a good way to start. Find books or websites on this topic. Google “third culture kids” or “global nomads” and you’ll find quite a few sites that are helpful. Find books written by TCKs. I have found some valuable insights by reading their works. If you are interested in some titles you can check out my blog where I have reviewed some of those books.
2. Talk to adult TCKs, or follow their blogs – If you personally know a TCK, ask if they wouldn’t mind sharing their experience growing up overseas with you sometime. You might be surprised what you hear, but don’t be offended if they don’t really want to talk about it. It’s not you, it may be that they are still working through some issues – and that is okay. If this is the case or if you don’t know of any TCKs, many TCKs are now blogging about their experiences and thoughts about being a global nomad. Don’t just read their posts, though. Interact and ask questions you have about the topic they wrote about. Or email them the question if you are not comfortable with putting yourself online. Either way, if they are sharing with the world their thoughts about being a TCK, then they will be willing to answer questions, right?
3. Talk to other parents who have raised TCKs – If you are already living overseas, observe parents at the school. Talk to them about issues you have questions about. If you are still in your home country, Google “parenting TCKs” or something like that. Many parents, too, are now blogging about their experiences.
4. Attend a conference or lecture on the topic – this one might be difficult to do, but if you hear or see something being offered…. GO. It is not just listening to the speaker, but collaborating with other parents and specialist in this area. I mean, what better place to learn about kids growing up overseas than to be in a place with so many people have such a wealth of information.
5. Don’t box them up in pretty packages – What I mean is that once you gain all the insights and knowledge to remember that each TCK is a person. They are individuals with different personalities, which will result in different reactions to various experiences they have while living overseas. Sometimes this can be difficult to do, but I honestly think it’s the most important.
This is not a comprehensive list, but it will at least get you started. I find that I’m still learning – because parenting isn’t an easy job. Kids do NOT come with instruction manuals with troubleshooting ideas to fix all the problems that will come. There will be misunderstandings. There will be drama. There will be grief. But there will be joy, love, fun, and pure adventure along the way.