What’s in a name? Lots, actually! For one, identifying with the group calling themselves “Third Culture Parents” can help you with finding sometimes crucial information and support and to address the particular challenges, linked to raising kids in foreign cultures.
Here are 10 signs shared by third culture parents.
1. We’re struck by culture shock – like our children – meaning we can feel destabilized, unsettled, depressed or overexcited for a period of time ranging from several weeks to several months or even years!
We have to deal with a high level of stress, a reduced ability to communicate (due to language barrier but also the lack of understanding of non-verbal cues) and a modified sense of identity. This has an impact on the children. We are less available, more irritable, less patient. We may experience mood swings: being extremely frustrated because we’re lost in the street and can’t even find someone to help or being completely ecstatic in front of the impressive Great Wall of China.
2. We are facing – sometimes extremely deep – modifications of our identity.
But we’re supposed at the same time, to help our children develop their own! It’s challenging when you’re yourself struggling. In some cases, it can be heartbreaking to see our children deny the identity linked to our home country. This can be due to several reasons: trauma lived in the country of origin, negative image of the home country in the host country. My sister-in-law changed her name from Jasmine to Cathy to blend more easily in the French community. In other cases, the opposite reaction can occur. A friend of mine with a French mother and a Chinese father had Frédérique as first name. She proudly chose to use her middle name Siu Lan instead in her daily life.
3. We can be strangers in our own house.
If our children go to a local school, they may become fluent in the local language before us. This is both a blessing and a curse: on one hand, we turn them into our private translators…