October 05, 2011
Challenges of The Third Culture Kids
Every day, as more and more people/families move to different countries because of careers/jobs, etc, one gets to notice that the term 'Third Culture Kids (TCK'S) is expanding.
The Third Culture Kids represents many countries and cultures. They are smart, intelligent, well experienced and exposed (to the world and different cultures), bi/multilingual, open minded, easy to make friends, etc. There are lots of advantages of being a Third Culture Kid but at the same time, these kids face some challenges too.
*Most third culture kids have little knowledge about their home culture. This includes history, family or culture rules in their home country. I grew up to know 95% of my relatives and my relationship to them, but the case is different with my kids. As we travelled home last Summer, I had to introduce them to their cousins, uncles and aunties, etc. A third culture kid who goes back home for a family reunion will often have to be told about how they are related to their relatives.
* They are uncertain of their cultural identity.
* It's not always easy for them to maintain a certain personality.
*Feeling different from others, difficult in forming peer relationships. This occurs more often at university level or when returning to "home" country, where they are misunderstood by their fellow country men.
For the most travelled ones:
* They have difficulty with commitment to people, places, schools or school system as these constantly change. Constant loss of relationships, loss of community/School = loss of their world.
* They at times feel powerless. They feel they don't have control over events and that these are often taken out of their hands anyway by the inevitability of the move.
* They also have the elusive concept of where is home? The sense of belonging everywhere and nowhere.
* Rootlessness.The problem of trying to define where home is.
* Restlessness. The frequent need to change countries and homes.
* Most of the TCK's have problems with decision making because they don't know what come s next.
If parents understands these challenges, they can always help the TCK's pull through and they will know that they are not left alone.
With good preparation, communication, support systems, family functionality, the life of TCKs can be incredibly hopeful and beneficial. Like I said, the advantages of being a TCK by far outweighs the challenges.
If you are a parent with TCK's or you are one yourself, or you just want to know more about them, there is a book by David Pollock and Ruth van Reken "Third Culture Kids, the experience of growing up among world". It's an excellent book well and clearly written for anybody or parent who is living his/her life overseas.