Context is key for understanding where you are in this webinar because it refers to a system of shared meaning, in this case, between you and your family. What’s common sense is really cultural sense. Now, more than ever, culture is a dynamic, rapidly moving, invisible force that will account for why people behave the way they do based on a series of events that shaped their history. Youth culture in the USA refers to the shared meanings between young people, or Millennial’s that are distinctive from their parents, and the other adults. What that looks like for you as an older adult expat may a diminished level of authority, by risk-taking Youth, who operate in a context that values dialoging and deference. We think these are elements that may create added frustration during your expat experience, so we hope to minimize these unanticipated obstacles to cope and adapt better and improve your stay rate.
Influence on Lifestyle
Awareness of our Youth culture won’t make it go away, but acknowledging it on some level can minimize your frustrations with this major subculture who seem to be in the first position of “authority”. After all, advertisers and marketers are listening to them, not you and this is what we anticipate may frustrate you. The consequences of this Ageism in America can make an already unfamiliar cultural context, feel even more foreign. If you are more traditionally oriented, you may get the feeling that your authority is being unambiguously and categorically undermined. This unanticipated generation gap between you and your kids can make transitioning to the American way, seem downright impossible.
Leveraging Your Influence at School
Choosing the right school is already challenging for expats but the added dimension of Youth and Ageism makes it even more difficult because it’s easy to for your kids, and subsequently you, to feel like an outsider if you get it wrong. It’s equally important to choose the right school as it is the right learning level by doing your pre departure school research (see January’s Education Webinar) to avoid negatively impacting your child’s social life. If they feel they’re not fitting in, the consequences of peer pressure can be brutal and make no mistake, this impacts the whole family’s disposition. Take into consideration different requirements and teaching styles because your child may arrive at the new school either ahead of or behind the American classmates. Here’s where you can take charge and influence a positive sense of emotional and social well-being by arranging for school records to be sent well in advance of the move, or deliver them yourself right away. It should include a comprehensive dossier of official school transcripts and immunization records; plus anything else you think is important. This goes double if you have a special needs diagnosis or (LD) and in this case should also include medical evaluation letters, direct contact information, evidence and documentation.