The time has come again to announce to our children that we will be moving on. How to break the news? No matter what you say it will not go down well. Home, friends, habits and activites are all being thrown up into the air like juggling balls and we except our kids to catch these balls with perfect equilibrium in some foreign place and continue juggling.
Here are a few point that I found to be very true by gaijinchic.com in order to make the transition easier for your children as well as yourself. We surely aren't perfect Expat parents but we can always try....
1.) Adaptable: The perfect expat parent would be able to easily move from one nation to another without raising a sweat. They would hit the ground running and take to their new location like a duck to water. There would be no tears or tantrums when internet connections cannot be set up for weeks and there is no English language TV.
2.) Adventurous: The perfect expat parent would be adventurous and daring. Able to leap between languages, countries and cultures with a child under each arm.
3.) Sense of Humor: No perfect parent would be complete without a fully functioning sense of humor. The perfect parent would be able to see the funny side of missing luggage, foreign hospitals, and dishonest taxi drivers. They would always be smiling due to their ability to only see the bright side of every situation.
4.) Team player: Perfect expat parents are team players. They are on every school committee, they coach all the sports teams and spend every other spare minute baking for the bake sale.
5.) Confident: The perfect international parent is confident in all situations; Principal’s offices, immigration halls, foreign hospitals, and open-air wet markets. No one can intimidate them, or cause them to doubt themselves. They stride through airports looking freshly showered with perfectly behaved kids and matching luggage.
6.) Imaginary: The perfect expat parent does not exist anywhere except in our imaginations, or worst nightmares. Instead our kids must put up with a bunch of people who have found themselves attempting to parent across cultures and in unfamiliar lands.
We are all doing the best we can. Some of the traits listed above are part of our roles as international parents. We do need to be somewhat adaptable, adventurous, confident and able to get a long in a team while maintaining the remaining dregs of our sense of humor in difficult and unfamiliar situations.
More realistically, I think there are only two traits we must have to survive our roles raising young world nomads;
Willing to ask for help: When you first arrive in a new country you know nothing. Worse than that, you don’t even know what you don’t know yet. Being able to ask for help is the most important trait of an expat parent. It is only by asking others that we can learn the small but important details about our new life. Where to buy bread, what time the shops open, how to find the bank, and so on. Our kids watch us as we negotiate our way into a new culture. They take their cues from us. It is important for kids to see their parents ask for help sometimes. We teach them that we don’t know it all, but we do know how to find out.
7.) Consistent: Our kids need to know they can count on us. We need to be consistent in showing them how important they are. Wherever we are, whatever we are doing, they need to know they can count on us to be looking out for them, loving them and paying attention. We are their home.