Written by Janine Alvarado. Original post appears here.
Over the last year, I’ve been reading a book about raising healthy TCKs (Third Culture Kids). There are some wonderful benefits to raising your kids overseas (like an expanded global worldview, outside-the-box thinkers, an intuitive ability to empathize, etc.). But there are also challenges that many TCKs tend to face and that don’t often surface until their adult years.
So, I’ve been reading about them and some proactive approaches as a parent to help them.
One of the suggestions was regarding how we spoke about “home.”
In my mind, “home” is America. It can also be wherever we currently have our suitcases—but the key idea of “home” for me is in a little wooded street between hills, with a greenhouse with a white porch, drafty bedrooms, and ongoing improvement projects.
For my kids, “home” is Japan. Their passports may say otherwise, but to them, our corner apartment on the side of a busy street through town is where their life goes on. Trips to America are just that—trips—to a foreign country. Loved ones are there, but essentially it’s a country and a culture where life is different.
In the book I’m reading, the author recommends referring to Mom and Dad’s home culture as their “heritage” as compared to their home.
It’s an interesting concept! So, we’ve been taking the opportunity to explore things on our trip to America as learning experiences for the kids: “This is where Mommy comes from.” “These are some things I ate growing up.” “This is how people in this part of America do this.”
Even though we’re American (well, and Honduran too), having lived on another continent for so long—we’ve changed a lot. Our ways of doing things have changed. Our taste buds have changed. Our way of thinking and perspectives on many things have changed. So, our culture at “home”—the one in Japan—is not necessarily American. It’s a little mix of everything that works for us.
Approaching things from a heritage perspective has helped me be more purposeful about things—pointing things out, having conversations. Granted, they aren’t in-depth conversations since it’s with a (almost) 7-year-old and a 4-year-old.
But it’s a start between bridging these worlds that are oceans, plane rides, and life experiences apart.