Ruth Van Reken

Home/Tag: Ruth Van Reken

Third Culture Kids and the Book You Need

Parents of Third Culture Kids, grandparents, schools, friends, aunts and uncles, TCKs yourselves, supporting organizations…you need to read Third Culture Kids.

You need to.

The third edition came out last week, full of all the old goodness but also addresses fresh issues that TCKs face today: from interacting with technology to facing cultural complexity. There are resources for parents and educators and kids themselves.

I reread this book regularly.

Marilyn Gardner posted an essay, in response to the publication of this new edition and I highly recommend you read it here. She writes about the joys and griefs, celebrations and losses, advantages and unique challenges of life as a TCK and as a parent of TCKs.

I will also repost an oldie, by Ruth Van Reken herself, about who are Third Culture Kids but if you don’t have time to read so many essays, just go get the book: Third Culture Kids

And Marilyn’s books as well: Between Worlds and Passages Through Pakistan: An American Girl’s Journey of Faith

***

Ruth grew up in Nigeria as a USA citizen with an American dad who was born and raised in Persia (now Iran), she raised her own children in Liberia and her first grandchild was born in Ghana.

She says, “This topic is obviously important to me. However, because the term itself often seems to lead to confusion, I thought it might be good to set a clear foundation on who and what we are or are not talking about to hopefully expedite the important discussions that will follow.”

***

Who are third culture kids?

In the late 1950s, Ruth Hill Useem, originator of the third culture kid term, simply called them “children who accompany parents into another culture.” While she did not specifically say so, all those she originally studied were in another culture due to a parent’s career choice, not as immigrants or refugees. Dave Pollock later defined TCKs as those who have “spent a significant part of his or her developmental years outside the parents’ culture(s).” He then went on to describe them by adding “Although elements from each culture are assimilated into the TCK’s life experience, the sense of belonging is in relationship to others of similar background.

This descriptive phrase seems to be part of where some confusion rests. It is absolutely true that any given TCK or by now adult TCK (ATCK) often personally incorporates various aspects of his or her life experiences into a personal world view, food preferences, or cultural expectations. That’s why many TCKs and ATCKs relate to the metaphor of “being green” that Whitni Thomas describes in her lovely poem “Colors.” There she writes how she feels both yellow and blue in her different worlds but wishes there was a place to “just be green.” Ironically, many TCKs do feel “green” when with others of like experience, as Pollock describes. This is where they don’t have to explain this desire to be both/and rather than being forced to choose an either/or identity.

Other TCKs easily understand because many feel the same way, no matter which country their passport says is “home” or which countries they have lived in. But putting various pieces of different cultures together is not the third culture itself, although it is a very common (and wrong) way many describe it.

What is the “third culture”?

If the third culture isn’t a mixing and matching of various cultural pieces, what is it? Another common misconception is that somehow it means something related to the “third world.” Or that it measures the number of countries or cultures someone has lived in. Many have said to me, “Well, I must be a third, fourth, or even fifth culture kid because I’ve lived in…” and they list the extraordinary number of places they have lived or the cultural complexities within their family structure.

Perhaps having a simple definition of the original concept of the third culture itself would be helpful. A starting point is remembering that culture is something shared, not an individualistic experience. So how does that relate? Easily! In the late 1950s, two social scientists from Michigan State University, Drs. John and Ruth Hill Useem, originally defined the third culture as a way of life shared by those who were internationally mobile because of their career such as international business, military, foreign service, or missionary work.

The Useems noted those we now call “expatriates” had left the country their passport declared as “home” (the first culture) and moved to host country (the second culture). They noted that this community formed a way of life that was common to them but was unlike either the way they would have lived in their home cultures or how the locals were living in this host land. They called this an ‘interstitial” or third culture. Those who lived in this community may not have shared nationalities or ultimately, the same host cultures but there is much they share.

Then, as now, all who live this globally mobile lifestyle for reasons related to career choices live in a world of truly cross-cultural interactions. Entire worlds and cultural mores and expectations can change overnight with one airplane ride. High mobility – personal and within the community – is the name of the game. There is some level of expected repatriation as compared to a true immigrant who plans to stay. Often there is a strong sense of identity with the sponsoring organization. In time, Dr. Ruth Hill Useem because particularly fascinated with studying the children who grew up in this particular cultural milieu and named them third culture kids or TCKs.

So why do these distinctions make a difference to anyone but a high powered academician? Because it helps us normalize the results of a globally mobile experience for all. In particular, if we understand the difference between the TCK and the third culture itself, we can see more clearly how and why the typical characteristics of the TCK profile emerge. They do not form in a vacuum.

For example, if TCKs are chronically negotiating various cultural worlds in their formative years, no wonder they often become cultural bridges in later life and careers. Interacting with others from various cultures and world views hopefully develops an understanding that there are reasons and values behind how others live and hopefully helps TCKs and ATCKs clarify the reasons they hold the values and practices they do.

On the other hand, if the normal process of identity development occurs in conjunction with how our community sees and defines us as well as our inner perceptions, we can understand why frequent changes of our cultural mirrors can complicate the process of defining “who am I, anyway?” If relationships and the normal attachments that come with them are chronically disrupted by high mobility, no wonder there are often issues of loss and grief to attend to. We can also understand the isolation some TCKs ultimately feel as it seems pointless to start one more relationship if it will only end in another separation.

Better yet, once we have understood the “why” of our common characteristics, we can figure out the “what” we need to do to help deal effectively with the challenges so the many gifts of this experience are being maximized. And then we have to see how we will do those things. That’s the stage we are at now. I call it TCK Phase 2.  All over the place, new books are coming out telling us how to do better school transition programs, how therapists can work more effectively with this population, how parents and educators can work well with adolescents TCKs. I’m sure you will be hearing from many of these emerging experts in the coming blogs.

Personally, however, the reason I feel so passionately about keeping our terms clear is so that as we understand the “why” of the TCK story, we can begin to apply some of these insights and lessons learned to others in our globalizing world who are also living and growing up cross-culturally and with high mobility for countless reasons now than simply a parent’s career choice. But I’ll save those thoughts for another blog when I can hopefully share how lessons learned in the TCK experience relate to other cross-cultural kid (CCK) childhoods as well.

***

Ruth’s desire, and mine, for this series, is “the normalizing of experiences and then the empowering of TCKs and ATCKs to live life to the fullest potential.” Follow Ruth on Facebook and keep up-to-date on her writing, speaking, and other offerings of wisdom on her blog Cross Cultural Kids.

Letters Never Sent, a global nomad’s journey from hurt to healing updated, 2012, by Summertime Publishing

Save

Save

Our Tribal Elders, The Heart of Ruth Van Reken

Today I offer you Part 2 of the paper by Paul Asbury Seaman, Our Tribal Elders. This part, about the heart of Ruth Van Reken made me cry and I’m not a Third Culture Kid, though I am raising three of them. So many beautiful things here today.

Last week in the Introduction, Paul wrote that:

In a very primal sense we are formed by the landscape of our upbringing—by specific events and social factors as well as the physical place. But our identity is equally influenced by how we interpret this heritage. The basic human question Who am I? is not just about self-discovery but finding our place in the world…

…Placing each of our tribal elders—Van Reken, Useem, Pollock, and McCaig—in one of the Four Directions of the medicine wheel will highlight their distinct contribution and also illustrate four different “windows through which to view the global nomad enigma. These are heart, identity, wisdom, and integration.

(Read all of Part 1 here) And today he will begin diving into the lives of the four people who left massive impacts on the conversation about growing up as a Third Culture Kid by looking at how Ruth Van Reken embodies ‘heart.’

Paul attended Murree Christian School in Pakistan. He currently lives in the Bay Area, California with his wife Catherine. He has published several articles about the impact of growing up overseas as well as a memoir, Paper Airplanes in the Himalayas: The Unfinished Path Home (West and the Wider World)

Website: Paul Asbury Seaman and you can contact him at pasburyseaman@gmail.com

heart

Heart… Ruth Van Reken (b. 1945) Our deepest, most satisfying connection to others—as well as to places, things, even ideas—comes from the heart. This is where we hold our most cherished beliefs and sense of self, and it is the heart that tells us we are home when we find what we have been yearning for. The first quadrant of the medicine wheel is the East, the direction of the rising sun, of new beginnings, and family. This is where we experience our emotions and our most vulnerable moments. It is here, in the heart, that we feel the ache of displacement and it is through the heart that we redeem our sense of belonging.

Ruth Van Reken’s credentials as a spokesperson for TCKs are partly genetic. She comes second in four consecutive generations of third culture kids. At one point when she was a little girl, her family (including her parents and older sister) consisted of four people born on four different continents. In her adult life, her husband’s career as a doctor included time in the Navy and several years with an interdenominational mission board; in Liberia he was assigned to the main government hospital, sponsored by USAID; in Kenya he worked as a professor for the medical school of Moi University in Eldoret. This gave Ruth experience in four of the major categories of sponsoring agencies from which TCKs come: military, religious missions, government, and education (the others being corporate and nonprofit).

Her grandfather was a missionary doctor who set up a Presbyterian hospital in Resht, Iran—then known as Persia. Her father was born there, became a missionary himself, and took the family to Africa for the first time in 1944. (The ship on which they crossed the Atlantic was sunk by German planes on its return voyage to New York.) Ruth was born in Kano, Nigeria and, not counting two home-leave “furloughs,” lived there until she was thirteen. Four more of her siblings were born in Nigeria where her parents worked for a total of thirty-four years. During high school Ruth lived with her grandmother and aunt in Chicago. She did not see her parents once in four years.

Later, she married David Van Reken, soon to become a doctor and a man who shared her calling to mission work. David served two years at the U.S. Navy hospital in Portsmouth, Virginia, and in 1976 Ruth returned to Africa, this time as a wife and mother.[i] Working through SIM (Society for International Ministries; formerly Sudan Interior Mission), they spent nine years in Liberia, where the first of three daughters was born. The global itch was passed down again, and Ruth’s first grandchild was born in Ghana.

One day when Ruth was growing up, her father told her he felt like he didn’t quite fit anywhere, and she was shocked. This from a man who had regaled Ruth and her siblings with stories of his childhood in Persia, a man who was a well-regarded leader in their mission community, the one people came to whenever there was strife between missionaries and the Nigerian church leaders. (Both sides trusted him, but in the end both sides got mad at him for not taking their side. Being a cultural bridge can be a lonely task.) But her father also used to tell Ruth: “Wherever you go, unpack your bags and plant your trees. Too many people keep waiting to move and they never really live. If you have to move, then at least you will have lived life fully while you are here. If you don’t get to eat off your trees, someone else will.”

Van Reken’s first book, Letters Never Sent, a global nomad’s journey from hurt to healing grew out of Ruth’s struggle with inexplicably persistent depression as a happily married adult. It is presented as a series of letters she might have written to her parents—if she had been able to name her feelings—beginning with her first night at a missionary boarding school in Nigeria and concluding the day her own daughter leaves Africa to begin high school in the United States. The result, published in 1988, is a sort of memoir that carefully reconstructs the little girl’s pain and how that unresolved grief impacts her as she moves into adulthood. With the special power of personal narratives, Ruth’s book has helped thousands of people get in touch with grief. Psychology tells us that we cannot truly feel joy until we are willing to feel all our emotions, including anger, sadness, and fear.

Not everyone will relate to Ruth’s boarding school experience, or to the overtly Christian perspective of her upbringing (and that of the adult author). But the themes of loss and grief, of unintended consequences, and how children can so easily misunderstand the most well-intentioned actions of their parents—these are universal. Although barely 160 pages, it took me a year to finish Letters Never Sent. I cried on almost every page. The book is powerful because of Ruth’s courageous presentation of her feelings, without judgment or analysis, simply describing the sense of abandonment, the compulsive insecurities, and the irrational fear of losing those close to her that continued to plague her well into adulthood. As a result of naming the things she previously felt she was not allowed to even feel, let alone say, Ruth was able to let them go.

Her modest little book is now something of a classic of global nomad literature, far beyond how she originally conceived it.[ii] It would be hard to find someone more empathetic, who is a more fully-present listener, than Ruth Van Reken. And that is her continuing gift. Such compassion—the ability to authentically connect with another person’s pain—would not be possible if she had not acknowledged her own. Ruth’s “letters” were a deliberate part of her faith journey, not just a therapeutic exercise; and her struggle with darkness enabled her to see the commonalities beyond our disparate backgrounds and personalities—starting with the lonely child in each of us, longing for connection, to be loved, to know that we belong.[iii]

Intimacy is the greatest expression of feeling at home. Learning to embrace the whole of our past (whether or not we ever get it all untangled) is part of our wholeness as human beings—and as a culture. It has been said that intimacy means “in to me see.” We cannot be closer to someone else than we are to ourselves. The awareness and trust that creates such closeness must include owning all our feelings—the accumulation of buried emotions as well as what we feel at any given moment. Letters Never Sent is about reconciliation—with our past, with others, and with the conflicts within ourselves. Sometimes we have to forgive life itself for not being all we thought it should have been. More than something we do, forgiveness is a state of grace beyond blame.

Recently, Ruth told me about flying across the mountains of Afghanistan a few months earlier, in a small single-engine airplane like the ones in which she used to travel across Africa as a child; and how the plane banked to dodge the masses of low-level clouds. Later, sitting in a cold guest house after leading yet another workshop on third culture kids and their families—in forty countries, so far—she realized, This is what I was born to do. Everything in her life, all the pain and displacement, joys and connections, had prepared her for the satisfaction of her life now and the effectiveness of her calling. The awareness of such complete integration is a moment most of us can only hope to achieve. In many ways, Ruth has become one of the fruit trees her father counseled her to plant.

*****

[i] Ruth Van Reken had a B.A. in Nursing, as well as being an R.N. But with the trend toward nationalizing mission hospitals and education institutions, her services were declined. Instead (along with raising four children), Ruth started a Bible study group for interracial couples. In a serendipitous foreshadowing of her later work with TCKs and CCKs (cross-cultural kids), it was here that she was first exposed to cross-sector commonalities and saw the many hidden aspects of cross-cultural relationships.

[ii] Including the first, self-published version, more accurately titled Letters I Never Wrote (1987), Van Reken estimates that as of 2010 Letters Never Sent has sold about 35,000 copies—“not really that significant by publishing standards,” she adds quickly, in her usual self-effacing way.

[iii] In summarizing survey responses from adult TCKs, Van Reken lists nine challenges they experience as a result of their cross-cultural background. Six of them—fully two-thirds—relate in some way to the question, “Where do I belong?” www.tckid.com/step2 (accessed June 30, 2010).

Don’t miss a post! Sign up for future blog posts in your inbox, the Stories from the Horn monthly newsletter or follow Rachel on Twitter and Facebook.

The Bookshelf: Djibouti Jones Contributors

This week the Bookshelf features writers who have written for Djibouti Jones. I’m really excited to share their extended works.

and

by Daniel D. Maurer. Daniel wrote On Writing: 7 Easy Tips to Find Your Niche and quite possibly the only fiction piece on Djibouti Jones. We met at The Loft writing center in Minneapolis a few years ago and Dan has since gone on to publish two excellent, powerful, and unique books. A graphic novel about recovery and a co-authored memoir about teenage male sex trafficking.

by Marilyn Gardner. Marilyn wrote Red Hot Rage, A Third Culture Kids Talks about Raising Third Culture Kids, and Let’s Talk about Hijab: Rethinking the Veil. She is the author of the book Between Worlds, a beautiful series of essays about growing up in Pakistan.

by Heather Caliri. Heather wrote Living With the Empty Spaces and The Hospitality of Greetings. She is the author of Unquiet Time: A Devotional for the Rest of Us and The Word Made Art: 52 projects for a spiritual encounter. The Word Made Art is available via her blog.

and

by Ruth Van Reken. Ruth wrote the opening essay in the series on Third Culture Kids, Who Are Third Culture Kids? She is the c0-author of the seminal book Third Culture Kids and Letters Never Sent, a moving memoir of her boarding school kid experiences.

by Rhett Burns. Rhett wrote Time is Relational in Turkey and is the author of a book with the fantastic subtitle: how American football explains Turkey.

D.L. Mayfield has a book in the works as do a number of other contributors. I’m sure I have missed some of you. If so, please leave a comment and I’ll add your books to the list or do another post in the future to promote them.

What I’m reading this week

In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin
by Erik Larson. Yup, still reading this. Love it. Need to finish so I can move on to his new one and to Thunderstruck, which I haven’t read yet. Larson was the guest on the Longform podcast this week too so if you are a longform fan or an Erik Larson fan or if you’d like to become one, I highly recommend the podcast. It is what motivates me to get u pat 5:30 a.m. and pound out 13 miles in dusty, muggy Djibouti. I think that about says it all.

 

 

Faraway: A Suburban Boy’s Story as a Victim of Sex Trafficking
by Daniel D. Maurer and R.K. Kline. Yup, this is the one I mentioned above. Dan is a Djibouti Jones contributor. You can read my review on Amazon. I read this in two quick night-time reading bursts and the second night should have gotten to bed earlier because I had that darn 5:30 a.m. wake up call but couldn’t sleep until I finished it.

 

 

 

The Tiger’s Wife: A Novel
by Tea Obrecht. I know. I mentioned this one before and my slow progress has little to do with the quality of the book. Its a great book and I wish I loved fiction more. I think reading more fiction would help my mind think more creatively. But…I struggle to get into fiction. Convince me otherwise! Recommend some great fiction.

 

 

 

What are you reading this week? What fiction do I need to read? Which Djibouti Jones contributors have I missed?

 *this post includes amazon affiliate links

Letters Never Sent

If Kleenex boxes could be sent via email, she should have sent me one of those too. I promised to write a review and I’ll say upfront that parents of Third Culture Kids should buy this book (I am not an affiliate of anything and earn nothing if you do). I tried to read the book while in the lobby of a hotel and had to put it away so I wouldn’t snort and sniffle and otherwise disrupt the peace. I finished it at home.

The sub-title of the book is: a global nomad’s journey from hurt to healing and that is a perfect description of this book. As the mother of boarding school kids, my eyes and heart burned while I read about her loneliness and the lies she told herself, and that seemed to be perpetuated by the environment, that she must be strong, must not feel the hurt.

The book is a series of letters Ruth didn’t write until later in life and chronicles her journey that began the first day of boarding school as a six-year old in the 1950s when, in her words, “her heart got pulled out.” Ruth writes bluntly and honestly and compassionately about her years in boarding school, high school in the US while her parents stayed in Nigeria, college, marriage, having children, and eventually moving overseas herself. She walks through separations and brokenness, loss and deep questions of faith.

Where was God when she was sick at boarding school and there was no comforting mother’s hand to soothe her? Where was God when she had to say good-bye, again, to parents and siblings and Nigerian friends? Where was God when she felt like a failure for crying?

And, I think ultimately, where is God when the pain is unbearable and is it okay to say that something good hurts like death?

She writes, “I wish someone would acknowledge that pain of what He is asking. Just once, I wish someone would give me a hug and say, ‘I understand. It’s okay to say that the right thing to do hurts. Go ahead and cry.'”

Through depression and wrestling, Ruth comes to a fuller understanding of grace and experiencing the comfort of God. The end of the book has a reflection on this comfort and on what it means to be a person made in the image of God. She also describes her journey of coming to write Third Culture Kids, which I found delightful because the process of writing always fascinates me.

Along with prayers and questions for my own children, I came away from this book with a longing to know this comfort of God, and with hope. Hope that through pain, Jesus shines beautiful and true and that the gospel has power. This is the only hope parents can hold when we know our choices are affecting our children for better and for worse, like Kelley wrote about on Tuesday in the Painting Pictures series.

Ruth writes, “There is great richness in this Third Culture Kid lifestyle and there is also great pain – ironically often because of the richness.”

Thank you Ruth, for your vulnerability. Thank you for contributing to this blog, for bringing my soul comfort, and for being a gentle shepherd of so many parents and TCKs.

Have you read any of Ruth’s books? Heard her speak? Other insights to share?

Painting Pictures: Who Are Third Culture Kids?

painting1Today the Painting Pictures series officially launches with the wise and gracious and focusing words of Ruth E. Van Reken, co-author with David Pollock of Third Culture Kids: Growing Up Among Worlds, Revised Edition. If you are a TCK, are raising a TCK, or grandparenting one, if you are in any way interested in TCKs, you need this book. You need to buy it because you’ll refer to it often over the years. She is also the author of Letters Never Sent and the co-founder of Families in Global Transition. I am thrilled that Ruth graciously agreed to participate and with the way her words set up the series.

Ruth grew up in Nigeria as a USA citizen with an American dad who was born and raised in Persia (now Iran), she raised her own children in Liberia and her first grandchild was born in Ghana.

She says, “This topic is obviously important to me. However, because the term itself often seems to lead to confusion, I thought it might be good to set a clear foundation on who and what we are or are not talking about to hopefully expedite the important discussions that will follow.”

*****************

Who are third culture kids?

In the late 1950s, Ruth Hill Useem, originator of the third culture kid term, simply called them “children who accompany parents into another culture.” While she did not specifically say so, all those she originally studied were in another culture due to a parent’s career choice, not as immigrants or refugees. Dave Pollock later defined TCKs as those who have “spent a significant part of his or her developmental years outside the parents’ culture(s).” He then went on to describe them by adding “Although elements from each culture are assimilated into the TCK’s life experience, the sense of belonging is in relationship to others of similar background.

This descriptive phrase seems to be part of where some confusion rests. It is absolutely true that any given TCK or by now adult TCK (ATCK) often personally incorporates various aspects of his or her life experiences into a personal world view, food preferences, or cultural expectations. That’s why many TCKs and ATCKs relate to the metaphor of “being green” that Whitni Thomas describes in her lovely poem “Colors.” There she writes how she feels both yellow and blue in her different worlds but wishes there was a place to “just be green.” Ironically, many TCKs do feel “green” when with others of like experience, as Pollock describes. This is where they don’t have to explain this desire to be both/and rather than being forced to choose an either/or identity. Other TCKs easily understand because many feel the same way, no matter which country their passport says is “home” or which countries they have lived in. But putting various pieces of different cultures together is not the third culture itself, although it is a very common (and wrong) way many describe it.

Lucy two-fisting samboosas and breaking the fast with Yusuf

Lucy two-fisting samboosas and breaking the fast with Yusuf

What is the “third culture”?

If the third culture isn’t a mixing and matching of various cultural pieces, what is it? Another common misconception is that somehow it means something related to the “third world.” Or that it measures the number of countries or cultures someone has lived in. Many have said to me, “Well, I must be a third, fourth, or even fifth culture kid because I’ve lived in…” and they list the extraordinary number of places they have lived or the cultural complexities within their family structure.

Perhaps having a simple definition of the original concept of the third culture itself would be helpful. A starting point is remembering that culture is something shared, not an individualistic experience. So how does that relate? Easily! In the late 1950s, two social scientists from Michigan State University, Drs. John and Ruth Hill Useem, originally defined the third culture as a way of life shared by those who were internationally mobile because of their career such as international business, military, foreign service, or missionary work. The Useems noted those we now call “expatriates” had left the country their passport declared as “home” (the first culture) and moved to host country (the second culture). They noted that this community formed a way of life that was common to them but was unlike either the way they would have lived in their home cultures or how the locals were living in this host land. They called this an ‘interstitial” or third culture. Those who lived in this community may not have shared nationalities or ultimately, the same host cultures but there is much they share. Then, as now, all who live this globally mobile lifestyle for reasons related to career choices live in a world of truly cross-cultural interactions. Entire worlds and cultural mores and expectations can change overnight with one airplane ride. High mobility – personal and within the community – is the name of the game. There is some level of expected repatriation as compared to a true immigrant who plans to stay. Often there is a strong sense of identity with the sponsoring organization. In time, Dr. Ruth Hill Useem because particularly fascinated with studying the children who grew up in this particular cultural milieu and named them third culture kids or TCKs.

So why do these distinctions make a difference to anyone but a high powered academician? Because it helps us normalize the results of a globally mobile experience for all. In particular, if we understand the difference between the TCK and the third culture itself, we can see more clearly how and why the typical characteristics of the TCK profile emerge. They do not form in a vacuum. For example, if TCKs are chronically negotiating various cultural worlds in their formative years, no wonder they often become cultural bridges in later life and careers. Interacting with others from various cultures and world views hopefully develops an understanding that there are reasons and values behind how others live and hopefully helps TCKs and ATCKs clarify the reasons they hold the values and practices they do.

On the other hand, if the normal process of identity development occurs in conjunction with how our community sees and defines us as well as our inner perceptions, we can understand why frequent changes of our cultural mirrors can complicate the process of defining “who am I, anyway?” If relationships and the normal attachments that come with them are chronically disrupted by high mobility, no wonder there are often issues of loss and grief to attend to. We can also understand the isolation some TCKs ultimately feel as it seems pointless to start one more relationship if it will only end in another separation.

playing with bones in the desert

playing with bones in the desert

Better yet, once we have understood the “why” of our common characteristics, we can figure out the “what” we need to do to help deal effectively with the challenges so the many gifts of this experience are being maximized. And then we have to see how we will do those things. That’s the stage we are at now. I call it TCK Phase 2.  All over the place, new books are coming out telling us how to do better school transition programs, how therapists can work more effectively with this population, how parents and educators can work well with adolescents TCKs. I’m sure you will be hearing from many of these emerging experts in the coming blogs.

Personally, however, the reason I feel so passionately about keeping our terms clear is so that as we understand the “why” of the TCK story, we can begin to apply some of these insights and lessons learned to others in our globalizing world who are also living and growing up cross-culturally and with high mobility for countless reasons now than simply a parent’s career choice. But I’ll save those thoughts for another blog when I can hopefully share how lessons learned in the TCK experience relate to other cross-cultural kid (CCK) childhoods as well.

 How does this important understanding of TCKs will help you?

Ruth’s desire, and mine, for this series, is “the normalizing of experiences and then the empowering of TCKs and ATCKs to live life to the fullest potential.” Follow Ruth on Facebook and keep up-to-date on her writing, speaking, and other offerings of wisdom on her blog Cross Cultural Kids.

Third Culture Kids: Growing Up Among Worlds, Revised Edition

Letters Never Sent, a global nomad’s journey from hurt to healing updated, 2012, by Summertime Publishing

Go to Top