These days there are a lot of people exploring the option of moving to another country. For some, it’s to improve their quality of life and lifestyle and others simply want the adventure of living in a new culture.
There are as many reasons to leave the home country as there are people looking to move. Whatever the reason, there are going to be challenges that come with the rewards. And if you are trying to raise a family as Internationalcitizens.com, those challenges multiply.
When you are trying to navigate things like taxes while abroad and how to go about your daily routine and juggle family life at the same time it can be a recipe for disaster for some. Others may not have any issues at all and just enjoy all the benefits from an international life.
In this article, we will go over several of the things that come with raising a family abroad, both the good and the bad.
Unless you are moving to a country where you already speak the native language, then this is the most obvious resistance that you will encounter.
It may seem like the kids are going to have the biggest challenge when it comes to the language, but the opposite is actually true. Kids will absorb the language faster than you can imagine.
Through playing with other kids and watching cartoons in the foreign language their brain is ready to take on that language and they can become fully bilingual in under a year in some cases.
Of course, this does depend on the age of your children. The younger the better as they can learn much faster. When kids are over twelve years old, it can take longer, but they will learn faster than most adults.
As we get older, learning a language becomes more difficult. And when you have to work and do other things that take time away from what would be dedicated to learning, it becomes even more difficult. Kids can focus 100% on earning so they can move at a much faster rate.
Going to school
How school is going to go will also depend on how old your children are. If they are already in school in your home country then the adjustment will take some time. If they are under school age or are only in kindergarten then this process will be much smoother since they don’t have to adjust to a new system.
Every country will have a different education system so it highly depends on where you end up as to how well your kids will handle the actual schooling, too. But, after the language, this is the biggest opportunity for your children to integrate as quickly as possible. If they are not at school, then they will likely feel like outsiders or rootless for some time to come.
They will need friends and peers to help them become comfortable in their new country.
The school will be one of the biggest challenges for the parents of these kids. If you don’t speak the language then communicating with their teachers and school administrators will be very difficult and prevent you from making sure that your kids are getting the most out of their education. Helping them with their homework is also going to be difficult if you don’t know the language.
Sense of belonging
Every child will react differently when uprooted and transplanted into a new country, culture and language. Some will grow up feeling like they don’t belong anywhere. They are too far removed from their home country to feel that they are of that place and will never feel like a native in their new land.
This can manifest itself in ways that can be positive or negative, depending on their personality. Some may end up with a successful career in another country altogether due to the skills they learned from being an ex-pat child. Others may find it difficult to find their way as adults as a result.
Some children will find that this feeling of not belonging to one particular place makes them well suited to the type of future that the world seems to be heading towards. With a more global culture, they will have the skills to navigate this world much better than somebody who never left their home country.
The world is their oyster
The lack of a sense of belonging to one particular culture can actually be a long term benefit. As the world changes and jobs dry up in one area of the world, only to be stronger in another, adaptability is crucial.
People that still live in the town where they grew up and haven’t experienced much of the world are at a big disadvantage compared to kids who have grown up outside of their home country.
It takes a special skill to be able to uproot and face the types of challenges that one faces. If you have a particular career in mind and they are not well represented where you currently live, then you have to go where they are. A third culture kid is going to be able to do this without any issues.
They also end up with a much more dynamic and inclusive world view. Harmony between cultures and races happens best when people are able to put themselves in somebody else’s shoes. And since kids raised abroad know what it is like to be an outsider, they can much more easily empathize with some minorities and not see the difference in culture as bad things.
This makes them able to face the problems the world can throw at them in a very pragmatic way.
Any benefits or even disadvantages from living abroad with a family is all in the eye of the beholder. There is no doubt that there are a lot of advantages for children who grow up this way, but their personality is going to be the biggest factor on how well things go.
And it is up to the parents to figure out how best to deal with any of the negative emotions that the child may be feeling.