Every relocation is emotionally challenging. Add children to the equation, and you’ve got yourself a real emotional roller-coaster. Now add moving to a different country, and the whole thing becomes a Pandora’s box of potential problems. But should it be so daunting? Absolutely not! You should perceive this as a huge opportunity and the ultimate gift you could ever give to your children. Yes, at first, things are going to be a bit hard and hectic. Starting at a new school, leaving friends behind, and being thrown into a completely new environment could potentially affect your child. However, they will experience new cultures, learn a new language, accept new attitudes, and quickly the initial hardships will become a jumping board to flourishment. Your child could benefit from life abroad immensely. All these new experiences will have an incredible impact on their development and broaden their horizons.
Moving abroad will develop your child’s adaptability
Children are capable of handling more than parents think. Therefore, parents need to know how to manage a child’s adaptation process, rather than take over and fall into the “helicopter parenting” trap. It is essential to provide children with the right information and ensure a nurturing and supportive environment at home. The children need to understand what is happening in order to start getting used to the newly developed situations. After you have decided to move, the children must get ready for this step. Three points are crucial when going about it:
- Good communication – honest and open communication with children is vital, even more so when you are moving to another country. It would be best if you talked to your child about everything – leaving friends, changing schools, the place where you’re going. Children should know what is awaiting. Also, communication will provide relief. When kids tell you how they feel and you show them understanding, they will see that it’s normal to feel the way they do. They will immediately feel better and commence healing.
- Including children in the moving process – letting children participate in this significant life event will build inclusion and empower them. They will not feel excluded, and as if all the decisions have been made for them.
- Observation of children’s behaviour – great life changes may trigger unwanted behaviour, such as increased neediness, frequent tantrums, or separation anxiety. These transition traumas are normal, but it is important to observe your child and take steps to help them get over the problems.
Your child’s resilience will be highlighted
Children are already very resilient, but only upon moving abroad will you see exactly how much. Changing schools and making new friends from scratch will put them in the situation to face their fears and learn how to overcome obstacles. They are bound to have ups and downs, which is how they will learn to deal with them successfully. As they grow, children constantly go through changes and are incessantly adjusting to new situations. Therefore, this transition will be much easier for them than for grown-ups. Obviously, a child’s personality will play a great role here, but ultimately, it is the parents who are more resistant to changes.
What makes children more resilient is the fact that their minds absorb new information like sponges. So they will pick up the new language in no time. And here lies another benefit of life abroad – children who moved to a new country at a young age have more chance of becoming bi or multilingual. Perhaps more importantly, they will pick up on social cues more quickly. They will also connect with new friends more easily – they are not hindered by cowardice and feelings of inadequacy, thus being braver when it comes to social interactions.
Developing cultural sensitivity is one of the tremendous benefits for a child living abroad
People who spent part of their formative years in a different culture from one of their parents are called Third Culture Kids (TCKs). They develop incredible social skills enabling them to move across cultural lines effortlessly, seamlessly, and fearlessly. Parents watching their children flourish like that will experience immeasurable pride and joy.
Nourishing curiosity about people, different cultures, and places is another way your child could benefit from living abroad. Chances are your child will go to an international school. Since they are a cultural melting pot, your kid will know about new religions, holidays, customs, and other cultural differences. Countries that might be obscure to you will probably be familiar to them. All of that will make your ex-pat child fantastic at cross-cultural communication. Moreover, they will be more open-minded, understanding, and accepting of others. They will know that other people are the way they are and equally human and legitimate.
Your child’s identity will be unique, not a reflection of yours
If you have spent all your life in one country and culture, your identity will inevitably be inextricably entwined to it. It is not the case with your ex-pat child. You will see their individuality when they choose to speak their adopted language instead of their home language. They may prefer to converse with their peers so that the parents have no idea about what. You will also have to accept that your kid will not have the same worldviews and values as their home culture, and that is perfectly fine.
TCKs will probably redefine what home means
“Where are you from?” might not be the right question for these kids. They may need more precision: Where were you born? Where do you currently live? They will differentiate between their birth home, passport home, and other homes they have lived in. Each place will shape their identity. For you, your home will always be your home; for your TCK, things are more complicated. This is the diversity you should celebrate, not a loss of a home that one should mourn. Moving abroad will prevent your child from being immune and desensitized to the familiar experiences and the world around them. So your child could benefit from life abroad by having a prolonged sense of wonder. Immersion in new cultures is the greatest gift you can give to your child because they will have much more in life to enjoy and be excited about.
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