Thursday, September 1, 2011

Expat kids' questions - Where do I come from?

“The world is a playground, and life is pushing my swing.”
Natalie Kocsis

"Mummy, where do I come from?" A question that will sound familiar to every Expat parents. A question we try to answer as best we can. One of our children's deepest needs is to know they belong. This is especially true for Expat children. Children who grow up in a culture that is not familiar to them or their parents. They move around the world every few years. These young global nomads can spend a lot of time feeling different and feeling like they don't fit in.

It is our - the parents - job to make sure they feel part of the life we have chosen. We are a team and we are in this together. They are an important part of our family.

Wherever in the world you are living, your kids will always be home when they are with you. Home does not need to be four walls, but is a place that exists wherever your family creates it. There are lots of little ways we can be more aware of the needs of our special global nomads, and work towards creating the kind of home that meets their unique needs.

1.) Take time to listen: It is important to listen to our kids. Take time each day to let them tell you their news. Bedtime can be a nice time to lay on the bed together and go over the good and bad of the day.

2.) Do things together: Spend time preparing meals together, doing chores, and of course playing together. Install the sense of team into your household. We are all part of the same team and we help each other out.

3.) Encourage your child to join into community events. They could join a sports team, get involved in a musical group or other extra-curricula activity. A child needs to feel part of the bigger community. You might want to help even more by being a coach or team mum. If you usually attend a Church in your home country, try to join one abroad too. It will expand your social network and also help your child to understand where they belong in the world.

4.) Get involved in school activities. It is important for parents to also get involved in the school. It helps your child know this is an important part of your family life. Join the parent association, volunteer at events and go along to meet the teacher days. If one parent is available to help out on school field trips, go along with your child. Make them feel important and special having a parent help out.

5.) Get to know your neighbors. Children need to feel part of their neighborhood. We sometimes forget the importance of neighbours when living in a foreign country. We enclose ourselves in our expat bubble and forget to reach out and say hello to those living closest to us. Encourage your child to play with the kids in the local park or play area. Head down to the nearest basketball court or field and throw a ball around with the other kids. Allow your child to invite the neighbors over to play sometimes. Get to know the parents too.

6.) Laugh together. Spend time having some fun.

7.) Create rituals. Make traditions and rituals that are important to your family. Maybe every Friday night is take away dinner night, or picnic in the living room night. Do you always have stories before bed? Can you make a new tradition like candle-lit dinners every Thursday?

8.) Love them. Our kids need to know they are loved unconditionally. Let them know we love them, just the way they are.

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1 comment:

Lorraine said...

Found your article about kids wanting to know where they come from very interesting. All your own ideas? Also, your Paris blog is beautifully designed! Great job Ingrid, you have indeed become a super blog-whiz!
Cheers, Lorraine

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