The term Third Culture Kid is often applied to children who have spent their formative years living in among foreign cultures away from their home country. In short, it is the name psychologists give to the children of expats.
Living abroad can have a significant impact on children’s outlook and can affect their personalities, views and general approach to life. While adults who relocate generally have their identities and cultural outlooks firmly in place, children may not yet have developed a full sense of who they are and where they are from. As such, they are more likely to be personally impacted by exposure to external cultural influences. Furthermore, they may struggle to find their place in the world and may grow confused as to which culture they actually belong to. Here is our lowdown on some of the pros and cons of raising third culture kids.
The Pros of Raising Third Culture Kids
- They tend to develop stronger communication, cross cultural and social skills as a result of the fact that they regularly need to adapt their speech and conversation to communicate with people from different backgrounds.
- They are more likely to be bilingual. Since third culture kids are often brought up in countries in which the primary language is different from their mother tongue, they are more likely to speak at least two languages, if not more.
- They are more open-minded. As a result of the fact that third culture kids are raised with children from different cultural, religious and political backgrounds, they are more likely to develop a wider perspective and more open approach to life than their peers who are brought up in their home country.
- TCKs are much more likely to be able to see the bigger picture, as their world view isn’t contained to one place.
The Cons of Raising Third Culture Kids
- They may suffer from a lack of belonging. Children who have been raised in many different countries may feel that they don’t actually belong in any of them and therefore may feel a sense of rootlessness.
- They may lose their identity. Similar to the above, when children live among many different cultures and nationalities they can lose sense of their own identity and what they stand for.
- They may experience difficulties forming close relationships. This is especially true of children who are relocated on a regular basis and who have experienced building relationships and friendships in many different places. They may become jaded to the concept of developing ties and can consequently shun close associations.
Were you a third culture kid, or have you raised children abroad? What do you think are the pros and cons of raising a TCK? Please leave a comment and share your experiences.