This guest post was written by Ann, author of Grubbs n Critters. She talks about a topic close to my heart – bringing up expat kids. I hope, you would enjoy this her story and don’t forget to visit her blog for more!
Both my kids were born in Bangkok. Apart from the occasional visits back to The Netherlands or Singapore, they know not of any other places that is home. To them, Bangkok is home and the rented apartment we live in is home-home to them; the only one they know.
Technically speaking, despite being born here, Bangkok is not actually their native home. Their parents came from not only different countries, but are indeed culturally different and have, for almost a decade been living in a totally different country that has a completely different culture altogether.
Talk about being culturally confused!
Wherein other expats would be worried about their kids’ assimilation to a new country when they move from their native home-base, I worry about them assimilating to the countries where their original homes should be if we ever settle in our own homeland in either The Netherlands or Singapore permanently. More so in Singapore, given my culturally complicated background.
That being said, I’m not even sure if I would consider them as 3rd culture kids as we haven’t been moving around too much. They were born in Thailand, but they are not Thai. They go to international school, have Thai teachers, learn Thai and have a few Thai school friends. That’s about where all their Thainess ends.
Outside their school environment, their father speaks Dutch to them, they communicate mainly in English to the both of us; with me, the occasional smatters of Malay and they pick up some Tagalog from their Nanny.
The way I see it, they are living in a world of people culture…culture that is shaped by people around them, adapting them as they go along, as opposed to 3rd culture. At such a young age, they are privileged enough to be living free from our own adult cultural prejudices as they embrace all facets of growing up in a bilingual, multi-lingual and multi-cultural home.
They make fast friends and while they get sad when their best-friends leave the country, they are very aware that their friends are just a skype away.
Yet, I worry.
I worry they will not be able to forge meaningful friendship and not having the chance to have that childhood friend. I think about the loss of opportunity for them to have best-friends whom would go through thick and thin with them throughout their growing up years; the kind of friends that both their parents have to this day – and it all started because they were physically together for many good years.
As it is now, they are already getting blasé about friends their age leaving and moving to a new place all the time. How would they view friendship in the future? What about their roots? What would they feel rooted to? Where is home?
I can already see that like me, my kids would perhaps, just not belong to the norm. There’ll be moments in their lives when they may feel like they don’t fit in, but because they hold the values of our culture as a global citizen, they would feel comfortable in being a little out of place. (I hope) they would have the natural ability to thrive wherever they are and still uphold the various crazy cultures that make up our little family of mutt.