Tag Archives: parenting

One year expatsincebirth

Bildschirmfoto 2013-08-15 um 11.28.06

Yes, today is my blogs’ first anniversary! It’s been exactly a year since I published my first post and I have to say that I really enjoyed writing every single post.

I’ve started blogging one year ago because I had written about many topics just “for me” and wanted to share them somewhere. To write a book about them seemed very appealing but then I realized that I covered so many different topics, that it would have been like a jack of all trades device. A friend gave me the idea to try to write a blog. But it was a few months later, when another friend told me the same, that I really started blogging. It was during our holiday in Switzerland that I choose the name and the main cathegories I would write about.

Selecting a name for my blog didn’t take that much time. My status as an expat-since-birth did pretty much sum up the topics. I did evaluate the different definitions of Third Culture Kids, Adult Third Culture Kids, Global Nomads etc.  in a post called “expat definition maze” but couldn’t find really a cathegory I could fit in, so I created my own one: expatsincebirth.

About multilingualism:

The knowledge I acquired during my studies about bilingualism and multilingualism brought me to write several posts about these topics in the cathegory being multilingual. As a multilingual person, my home are my languages and when I got children, I had to choose which language to speak to them in our multilingual family. With the  “secret language among (my) twins” I introduced the complex linguistic situation within our family. After pointing our the different definitions of OPOL I wrote about OPOL among multilingual siblings.

I find it pretty interesting that multilingual siblings don’t necessarily have the same language preference and that the initial language plan we usually make when our children are still babies, can change for several reasons when they get older.

There are many myths about bilingualism. I didn’t want to list them all up. There are already many posts and literature about this. But one in particular did intrigue me. It’s about multilinguals having multiple personalities. I’m still collecting answers about this in order to write a paper about it. – You’re very welcome to leave a comment on my post about this.

And then there is the myth about code switching being a sign of weakness. Well, it is not, on the contrary: Don’t worry if your child does code-switching!

Those who know me, know that I’m firmly convinced that reading is very important. And it is even more important for multilingual children to read in the different languages they grow up with. For those who don’t like to read, I wrote a post about how to make our children like poetry (and songs!).

Learning new languages for expats is not always that easy. But there are some tips that can help. I did point out the five more important ones that worked for me and added another post with tips how to encourage children to learn the local language.

There are many reasons to become multilingual at any stage. We don’t have to start at a young age to become multilingual. I shared my multilingual journey and pointed out that the most important thing is to be willing to learn new languages: “When there’s a will, there’s a way to become multilingual“.

About parenting:

In my posts about parenting I tried to give some practical advices. Some more will follow but up to now I gave some advices for when the children have the flu and I shared a first-aid experience I had this summer with one of my daughters, trying to remind other parents about refreshing their First Aid skills regularly.

In the colder period of the year Indoor activities for children become more important and role plays can be fun also for the older ones.

I’m not an over protective parent and like the  Love and Logic approach in parenting which consists also in doing lot of questioning in order to make the children take their own decisions from a very early stage. Also helping less helps our children more than we sometimes think, and it helps us too to realize how independent they can be (even as toddlers).

I’m very interested in e-safety for parents and children and the resources that are available about this topic. I published a few posts about  “How to reduce screen time for children” and about “mobile phones for children“.

The importance to spend one-on-one time with our children and how to manage if you have more than one child is very important in my daily life with my kids. “How to make children listen to us and how to listen to them” and “communicating is listening with empathy” are two posts where I point out the importance of effective communication with our children.

I got a bit annoyed by posts called “What not to say…” and decided to post some about “What to say”: “to parents of a child with a disability” and to a “mum of twins” because I prefer positive reinforcement.

I didn’t write a lot about twins yet, but I’m preparing a whole series about twins “from baby to teen”. The first post about this is called “Twins at school: once separated always separated?

When we spend holidays with our children we sometimes don’t really get to enjoy them as much as we would like. By giving them some chores we can easily get some holiday feeling too.

In order to lead a happier life, despite of all the movings, the changes and having many tasks around our kids, families and work, I wrote a post about the fact that our happiness depends on our selves: if we decide to be happy and take action we will succeed.

As I’m raising my children in a multicultural context and see many different parenting styles every day and I’m really fascinated in the different parenting styles across cultures I wanted to find some answers to the question “Do you think the cultures you’ve been in touch with did influence you in your parenting style?“. I’m still collecting feedbacks which I will publish in a paper. You’re very welcome to leave a comment on the post.

About expat life

I did publish several posts about expat life in general and some specific ones about the Netherlands and Switzerland. I will add some more about Germany and Italy, and maybe some other countries.

About ATCK’s raising TCK’s

Lately I got involved in several discussions about ATCK’s and TCK’s and joined several TCK groups online. I’m planning to write a small book about this and am preparing a questionnaire for ATCK’s (Adult Third Culture Kids) that I’ll soon publish on my blog.

I found out that TCK’s (and expats, global nomads etc.) often “tend to “start cutting bonds around 3 years into a friendship”” and that three is a magic number for TCK’s. Other topics in this cathegory are the good-byes, the ways “people call you“, the impossible question about “where is home” that TCK’s don’t like to be asked and “what kind of memories our kids will share with us“.

If you are interested to participate in my ATCK survey, please leave a message in the responses of my post “Are you an ATCK raising TCK’s” and I’ll get in touch with you.

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The most satisfying aspect of running the blog in this first year has been interacting with bloggers and parents from around the world. I found many like minded persons and am having really interesting conversations with people around the globe that I’m really grateful to have found this bloggosphere.

 I’ve joined several groups on the internet and met some of them also in real life. The Multicultural Kid Blogs group on Facebook did even start a own blog that I strongly recommend. Then there are the fb groups Mum knows Mum, Third Culture Kids Netherlands, Expats in The Hague which meet regularly and Third Culture Kids Everywhere etc. that all give me very interesting ideas and inputs for posts.

I would like to thank all my followers for joining my blog and for leaving very interesting comments! The almost immediate response to my writings is amazing and all your feedbacks are very precious to me.

Van harte bedankt – Vielen herzlichen Dank – Con un grazie di cuore –

With a heartfelt thank you – Merci de tout coeur – Gracias de todo corazon!

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Are you an ATCK raising TCK’s?

If you are an Adult Third Culture Kid raising Third Culture Kids, please read this post. You are probably familiar with the definition of a TCK, but here it is, just for those who are not sure if they are (or not) an ATCK:

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.

As an ATCK, we know exactly what our children are going through while growing up in a country that is not their (and our!) passport country. We have doubts about what language to teach them, as we are multilinguals, and we don’t know what kind of traditions we should teach them, show them and which aspects of our very colorful life we should pass them on.

As ATCK’s and former TCK’s (or expats-since-birth) we don’t feel the urge to have to explain where “home” is, we never questioned this. I’ve read so many articles from not-real-ATCK’s pretending that TCK’s ask themselves where they come from: this is simply not true!

I noticed that many topics about multilingualism, raising multilingual children etc. are often written by First Culture Adults or parents who never experienced a whole life as “expat” and I realize that the way to approach these topics is quite different from what I expect.

Therefore I would like to make this small attempt to ask other ATCK’s to let me know how they raise their TCK’s and what kind of experience they’ve made.

With your help, I will soon start this series on my blog because as an Expat-since-birth and ATCK myself, and raising TCK’s I’m wondering what makes the difference of being ATCK parents, raising TCK’s.

Multicultural life and parenting style

(updated 21.10.2013)

I have often been asked which parenting style I have with my children. My reaction is  similar to the question “where do you come from?”. I don’t have a clear answer and would list up all the different parenting styles I know. I’m sure that the cultures I’ve been in touch with did influence me for the way I parent my children.

Our society and our culture determine the way we raise our children. But do we adapt our parenting style when we move, change country and culture?

I know that this sounds a bit like the clichés I’m usually eager to avoid, but I recognize a few specific italian characteristics in my parenting style, but on the other hand I can identify particular german, swiss, dutch and english ones as well.

I want my children to be quite independent, take their own decisions and learn the consequences (I like the love&logic approach).

When it comes to food, I want it to be as fresh as possible. Even if this means for me to wake up early in the morning or to cook twice a day. I want my children to have fresh home made food. I don’t like processed food at all and prefer keeping it simple and fresh. – And I prefer the cucina mediterranea (although I must confess that especially during the winter period I also like German or Swiss dishes a lot! )

My children learn to be organised and to be on time, because it’s a sign of respect. I also like them to be polite, respectful, but not in a way that they say things they don’t think. I don’t want them to be nice at any cost (see here). I don’t expect them to sit quietly at the table for hours while I have a conversation with my friends (not as the one described in Pamela Druckermann’s book). – I’m quite strict but not inflexible.

I don’t give any kind of physical punishments. I tells my children about the consequences of their behaviour and encourage them to think about their decisions. I can raise my voice and am very determined. Some consider I’m too strict, but I prefer my kids knowing the boundaries.

Something I’ve noticed and that made me smile is, that when I get upset or if I want my children to do something quickly, I talk in Italian; it seems more natural to me. And I can talk faster than when I talk German. – My children always know that if I talk Italian, things get serious.

I’m a real “mamma chioccia”, a very mothering kind of mum. I know that some might consider my parenting style too close – I like to hug and to cuddle my kids – but to be honest, I don’t care. I need to let them know that I love them. And I want them to not feel uncomfortable to show their feelings – this is something that some of my friends who grew up in cultures where physical intimacy is not common, don’t understand. But that’s fine. It’s how I am and the way I’m raising my children.

My parenting style differs from how my parents raised me. I never questioned my parenting style and for some aspects, I think it’s more or less similar to how I grew up. I had my children relatively late and I am a confident person and I do raise my children alone, without extended family nearby. I somehow naturally know what I must do and follow my guts. – I do ask my sister for advice though (she lives even further afar than my parents), because I really appreciate her opinion and consider her and my brother in law wonderful parents.

I think my parenting style is a real mix of the cultures I’ve been in touch with: a bit of German, a bit of Swiss, a bit of British, Dutch and French and surely much Italian.

What is your parenting style? Do you think the cultures you’ve been in touch with did influence you in your parenting style?

What were they thinking?!

I wanted to post something else today, but this picture hit me straight into my heart while I was reading the newspapers online these days.

This picture shows four 6 year old chinese twins at their school in Shenzen (South China). Their parents did shave their heads and wrote huge numbers on their sculls to make it easier for their teachers to distinguish them.

In my opinion, it shows the complete inability of the parents and the teachers of these twins to cope with the situation. I find the act of shaving them and labelling in such an eye catching way very discriminating and terribly humilitating. By this act, they have been totally deprived from all the rights of being individuals. Twins, especially if identical or multiple twins, stick out already and there is no reason to make them feel even more uncomfortable about this.

I’m the kind of twins-mum who always wants her twins to be first of all individuals. On the inside and on the outside. That’s why I’m so outraged about this picture.

There are several ways to help people tell your twins apart. The easiest way is to make them wear different clothes. But even if twins need to wear a uniform at school, there are still little things you can change in their outfits. You can apply coloured stickers on the collars or choose a different hairdo for each child or let them wear a ribbon in their favourite color (for the girls) etc.. You can also use name tags until people can tell them apart. Personally, I prefer to point out physical characteristics to teachers, friends etc.: „Even the most identical twins have some distinguishing characteristic. (…) Identify a telltale feature for each child, for example a freckle, mole, eyebrow arch or hair whorl. Avoid comparative features; people can’t rely on them unless the twins remain together at all times.“ (cfr. http://multiples.about.com/od/twinsinschool/tp/aatptelltwins.htam).

Seriously, what were the parents of these four twins thinking?!

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