My son just watched “Rise of the Guardians” a few nights ago with some friends. He came home and told my husband that it was a funny movie, but he had one question.
Who is the Sandman?
This could seem like a funny question, maybe even a dumb question to many parents. I mean, in today’s age kids have the opportunity to watch cable TV, Movie on Demand, Netflix, etc. One would think that they would be up-to-date on all the stories and fairy tales from their “home” country, right?
This is not always the case – and we need to remember that as parents. We can’t assume that they know everything about our home country. And with that assumption, we can’t assume that our kids will figure it out or transition well if/when they move there.
How can we help them?
I think the best way is to inform them that although they may look like everyone else, they will be different. Actually, they probably have already figured that out if they are in elementary school and have made the return trip to visit family. Although they may know this, do they know how to cope with it? Can we teach them how? Can we encourage them?
I think we can.
1. Clueless does not equal stupid. I believe this is an idea that many TCKs may battle with as they enter the “home” country and not know what everyone else round them seems to know. It could be TV shows, it could be an expression/idiom, or even a name of a candy. They will feel stupid, but they need to remember that they are not. We can help them by reminding them that they are going to experience it and that this situation is normal. They are definitely not stupid.
2. Laugh – Laughing brings healing and can soothe the heart. Learning to laugh at ourselves is not always easy, but it can be done. Kids need to see that everyone messes up and are not perfect. Maybe you can share with them a time you messed up culturally when you were home – because let’s get real, even we forget what “home” is like. Just this summer, I had trouble counting money in my home country – It’s moments like this that I want to use as a model for “marking it up” as a living-overseas moment for me. For them, a TCK moment. Nothing more.
3. Bridge-people – You may have heard this term when you first moved overseas – you know the person that can help you understand the new culture better, be the bridge for you. I think this is needed for older children who transition into their parent’s home country. They need someone around their age who can help them navigate the teenage/university cultural differences. Someone who has been there and can relate to them, possibly another TCK or mentor who understands the issues of TCKs.
Whoever thought that the one to bring sleep and good dreams would turn out to be the one that stumped a TCK. Thanks Sandman for helping me remember that though my kids live in a world of technology, they still will not get all of my home country’s culture.
Your Turn: What have you seen from your children in regards to “missing out” on the home culture and helping your children cope with this transition issue. Please share in the comments below.
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- Language and TCKs (raisingtcks.com)
- Minimizing Culture Shock in Parent and Child (expatchild.com)
- Saying Good-bye Stinks (raisingtcks.com)
- 5 Packing Tips for Visiting “Home” (raisingtcks.com)