Tag Archives: Parent

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.


B at home: Emma moves again by Valérie Besanceney

If you are raising or teaching Third Culture Kids and are looking for a book to read to them – or for them to read by themselves! – about leading a mobile life and especially relocating this is the right book for you.

The author, Valérie Besanceney, is a Third Culture Kid herself. In this fictional “memoir” she tells about what a ten year old girl, Emma, and her teddy bear feel when they need to move again and how they perceive the changes. She translates what “adults know about the TCK experience into language and concepts that children who grow up globally can relate to”. (p.XVI)

If you are not a TCK yourself, this book will help you understand what TCK children are facing and find a way to help their adjustment.

This book will give you an insight into what children go through from the leaving stage until the entering stage of the transition phase. Changes can be adventurous, but also scary. Saying goodbye to friends, adjusting to a new school, a new language, a new country is a challenge TCKs face at every move or change in their life. Emma tells about the issues she has to B, her bear, who is her constant companion and the reassuring voice throughout the book.

Emma has already moved twice and when her parents tell her that they will relocate again. She is furious, sad, nervous – excited? Not really: “taking of for a vacation to an exotic island is exciting. Getting a present you’ve been wanting for a long time is exciting. Having a little brother or sister finally join the family would be exciting. Moving is not exciting at all!” (p.2).

Children usually appear to be resilient during transition and parents often don’t get to know what’s going on with them, unless they complain about tummy aches or show unusual behaviour. Valérie Besanceney knows all this first hand: “I know I silently struggled as a child, and there were only a handful of educators along the way who showed empathy for my situation” (p.XXII).

Emma finds a way to “tackle the conflicting emotions by turning to B, her faithful teddy bear”. All Emma wants is to “be at home”. During her journey, “home” acquires a new meaning for her and she finally comes to terms with the challenges of this move.

The very useful discussion questions added at the end of the book, help teachers and parents to discuss the different issues of a TCK with the children.

What others said about this book:

“In this book, parents, educators, teachers etc. will find suggestions for ways to translate TCK theory into practices to help children navigate the “chronic cycles of separation inherent in a TCKs childhood” (Ruth van Reken, Co-author, Third Culture Kids: Growing Up Among Worlds and Co-founder of Families in Global Transition)

“Beautifully written, B at Home: Emma Move Again is a must ofr parents, teachers and organizations that support global nomads. Adults who work with famlies in global transition will find it added to their “go to shelf”. Tidbits such as ‘…home will never ever be one place. It will be constantly moving. Like the waves, ike the beads in the kaleidoscope’ has made this one of my favorite books!” (Julia Simens, Emotional Resilience and the Expat Child: practical storytelling techniques that will strengthen the global family, Summertime Publishing, 2012)

“This is a book that will help children and their parents (and stuffed animals!) with any transition or move” (Dr. Lisa Pittman, Co-author, Expat Teens Talk: Peers, Parents and Professionals Offer Support, Advice and Solutions in Response to Expat Life Challenges as Shared by Expat Teens, Summertime Publishing, 2012)

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B at Home: Emma Moves Again, by Valérie Besanceney, Summertime Publishing, 2014.

Age appropriate chores for children

I’ve recently had an interesting conversation with some parents and despite our different cultural background and our different parenting styles, most of us agreed on the fact that children need to do some chores. Some parents realized that they would ask less involvement from their sons than their daughters and this was the topic of another discussion I then wrote a post about (Why dads need to wash dishes and mums need to fix the plug… ). We all tried to make a list of the chores we would consider appropriate for several age groups. Interestingly, the flandersfamily sat up a very similar list already:


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I may add some chores my children do regularly like making their beds, tidying up, loading the dishwasher, setting the table etc.. Some of the chores in this chart are not necessarily daily tasks. I would ask my children to do them occasionally and some of them would figure under “special” tasks – which, in our family are “rewarded” either with some extra pocket money or an extra activity in the weekend.


Which chores do you ask your children to do on a regular basis?

Do you ask your sons and daughters to do the same chores?

Are chores for children an issue in your multicultural (extended) family?


Review: “The Illusive Home” by James R. Mitchener

In The illusive home, James R. Mitchener gives us a very personal insight into the life of a real Third Culture Kid. He has first hand knowledge of what global moving and a life spent in different cultures means for TCK’s who are “cultural mixing pots, have grown up in so many vastly different worlds that the country from which we hail has no meaning beyond the fact that it’s the place that our passport says we belong” (p.1)

He talks about what “home”  means for a TCK, who “adopts fragments of every culture” and make them his own.

James R. Mitchell highlightens the important and sometimes painful aspects of transitioning for TCK’s, based on his own experiences. He describes the huge adaptability and mobility of TCK’s, their “ability to have an incredibly detailed understanding of new and unique cultures” (p.16) and why adaptation is their “most desirable quality” (p.17), that makes them into “creatures of culture” (p.18).

He also discusses why the definition of TCK should be more diversified because of many different kinds of TCK’s existing nowadays.

If you are a TCK, a parent of a TCK or an ATCK, The Illusive Home will resonate to you.

Growing up as a Third Culture Kid can be terrifying, but it is also rewarding and exciting: “In my eyes, despite how broken parts of my life have become, being raised in the places I’ve lived and having taken in so many cultures is the single greatest thing that has ever happened to me” (p.13).

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A few days ago, James R. Mitchener did publish a great post about the definition of TCK’s, called “Defining a Third Culture Kid” on his site “Third Culture Kid Life“: a must read for every TCK!


FYI: The common definition by David C. Pollock of a “Third Culture Kid”:

A Third Culture Kid (TCK) is a person who has spent a significant part of his or her developmental years outside the parents’ culture. The TCK frequently builds relationships to all of the cultures, while not having full ownership in any. Although elements from each culture may be assimilated into the TCK’s life experience, the sense of belonging is in relationship to others of similar background. (David C. Pollock)

But please read James R. Mitcheners detailed definition of TCK’s in “Defining a Third Culture Kid” (cfr. above)