Kids who grow up overseas away from their home country are called TCK’s (Third Culture Kids) and often have hard time associating what is “home” to them. Ruth Van Reken and co-author of Third Culture Kids, Growing up Among Worlds definition of a TCK is, “A third culture kid is a person who has spent a significant part of his or her developmental years outside their parents’ culture.” Where is a TCK’s home? Is it the country their passport is from? Is it the country they are living in now? Is it the country they have lived in the longest?
In our world today, families move away from their home country to live far more often than they did 20 years ago. These Expat (Expatriate) families have a lot to get used to when they move to a country that is foreign to them. For the children, not only do they have get accustomed to a new school and friends, but also a new culture and possibly a new way of living (ex: small town to city life). Some TCK’s are born in a what we call their “host country” and if and when they repatriate back to their home country they go through culture shock and have to learn what’s culturally normal and appropriate even though this is their home country. Even just keeping up with what’s going on culturally in their home country may be a hard thing to when you are thousands of miles away.
As a parent of two TCK’s and a teacher of TCK’s making sure they know who they are and giving them the tools to answer hard questions (to them) like, “Where are you from?” in the future is extremely important to me. Here are some great resources and articles for those expatriate families looking to help their children understand who they are and where they come from. Enjoy!