Being expat

How are your children coping?

Many of us are enjoying their holidays on a beach, with family and friends, ignoring (or deciding to ignore?) what is going on in other countries. Being on social media was quite irritating for me in the last weeks: pictures of relaxed children playing in the sand appeared next to news about children shot playing on the beach. Pictures of friends saying goodbye at the airport appeared next to pictures of families who took a fatal flight, the last one in their lives…

With all those wars going on right now and those terrible things happening – I know, they always happen, but sometimes it seems that it happens all at once – I wonder: How do the families who come from those places and live abroad, cope with this?

Living far away from family is already challenging, but when the country you come from is at war, things get much worse. You worry about your loved ones. You won’t probably be able to visit them – and they won’t be able to join you…

Parents will be incredibly worried, trying to reach their families in order to check if they are ok. Maybe they’ll not talk to them for days, weeks. Whether you’re living in a war zone and try to evacuate or you have family in a war zone: it’s an extreme situation and you’ll be in survival mode for a long time. How long can you resist?

And what about the children? Children learn to be resilient in so many situations during their international life, but war is something terrible to live with. They see their parents extremely worried, scared. What do parents tell their children, how do children process this? How can parents – who need help themselves! – help their children to cope with these situations?

Accusing or looking for the person, group or nation that’s responsible isn’t helpful. Being empathetic and listening to the fears children have is incredibly important now. Focussing on the here and now: what can we do today, how can we help eachother today, what kind of measures can we adopt to help our loved ones, our friends?

What should parents tell their children about their country when it’s at war? How can they help them to maintain a positive attitude towards their traditions and values when they see them all questioned by a war?

Children who grow up abroad, often grow up in international settings. What about their friends who turn up being “enemies” all of a sudden? How can they still stay friends if their families are suffering because their nations are combatting each other?

One is for sure: families coming from those countries and living abroad need support.

If you have experienced extreme situations like those evoked here above, I would love your suggestions about how to help children cope with this in the comment section. – Please be aware that I will remove any comments containing accusations or inappropriate language. All I’m looking for are suggestions about how to help these families and children cope right now.

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