A Mom’s Lament of Raising Kids in a World of People Culture

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.

 

16 comments

  1. My kids might say the same thing and they are both Americans with extended roots in a farm family, but because of their military life when young, they’ve lived all over. Their best friends are each other. And they are smart and well read and know geography and history and where people live who are in the news. And while I grew up in a big family, mostly on a farm, my “best friend” didn’t come to me until I was in my early 20s (I mean best friend other than my sisters). We live the life we live, and none of us get out free. My husband teaches philosophy and many of his students grew up in the same town and went to the same schools, and now look at him blankly when he mentions philosophical concepts in the news or international news. Your children will never look blankly at the world. They’ll be just fine.

    Liked by 2 people

    • That’s a wonderful comment :) i also hope, my girls would be best friends – always telling them that they are the closest people on earth to each other, asking them to stop occassional fighting or biting (in the younger one’s case) :)

      Like

  2. I can also relate to this as I moved to Sweden as a single mother with four children age three- to ten and stayed there for five years. Yes it was very difficult to go back home to Denmark and to another part of Denmark than the capital city. But the grown up children can speak the languages and seem to be of greater understanding that people who stay at one place their whole life. One live now in Sweden and the rest in different parts of Denmark.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I was born and I grew up in an Italian town, and the real friends I have, the ones who would “go through thick and thin” with me, I met them at University and in my volunteering community. I don’t have close friends from chlildhood. This is just to say I wouldn’t worry about them making close and good friends.
    If anything, they will learn to be citizens of the world, having friends and family from the world, which in my opinion is a wonderful thing.
    Plus, the fact of growing up speaking more languages considerably stimulates the brain! :)
    Personal feeling: since I was little, I have always wished I had a multi-cultural background… it was my secret dream. However, I’m all Italian.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I think that you do your best to raise up a well-educated kids and to remain their roots so they know where they come from! Moving abroad is not easy for both parents and children but the most important thing is to keep their relationship tight! Greeting!

    Liked by 1 person

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