Today I'm thrilled to share an interview with a young friend of mine. She was raised overseas, and has now transitioned into adulthood in the States. I was excited to ask her some of the questions that burned on my heart as I considered raising my children as TCKs. Please note that no name is used, to protect my friend's identity.

 

Q: Was your childhood overseas a good experience, one you look back on with good memories?

A: Yes, it was. Like any child, I had good times and bad ones. But overall I had a very happy childhood. I think the single most important thing was that our home was secure. My parents were unified, my brothers and sisters were my best friends. There was love in the home. We always had each other’s support, loyalty, and love. 

 

Q: Was it hard to have your father in ministry and gone a lot? Did you feel frustrated or bitter about that?

A: Sometimes, yes. More in my teen years than as a young child. The hardest thing was that his schedule was unpredictable, so we couldn’t count on having him there for the family times and things we felt he ought to be there for. But we had weekly family nights and daily family devotions. He did make his family a priority.

 

Q: How were furloughs for you as a child?

A: They were a difficult time. We didn’t just stay in one place, we traveled a lot and that was hard. The hardest thing was not wanting to make friendships because I knew they wouldn’t last since we were leaving again in a few months. 

 

Q: What are some things your parents did to help you grow up "well-rounded" while you were living overseas?

A: My parents made our home a “mini America” - they didn’t throw away their American culture when we moved overseas. When we were at a local friends’ house, then of course we adopted the local customs. But when we were at home, we were expected to use American manners, speak proper English, and so on. Also, my parents made our education a priority. My dad took the time to teach us music and other things that were important to him.
Another thing I really appreciate, is that my parents knew they would be letting us go, and didn’t try to hold onto us or make us take up their calling or vision of missions. They blessed us to each find our own way.


Q: How was the transition from your home country to the States? What helped you the most through that transition?

A: That transition was very overwhelming. My parents were here with me the first year, and I don’t know how I could have done it without my family. They knew where I was “lacking” and worked to fill in the gaps and teach me how to do things. I felt like a little child again, I had to re-learn everything. Banking, driving, cooking - all those things I knew how to do in my home country, I had to learn how to do here in America.
I also really needed people who genuinely wanted to be my friend, and weren’t just curious about my life overseas. In the beginning, I needed people who were willing to come my way - I didn’t have the energy to pursue relationships or even figure out how to get places.


Q: How do you feel that being a TCK has impacted you as an adult? Positive in what ways? Negative in what ways?

A: NEGATIVE - There have been some things to work through. One hard thing is not knowing how to maintain relationships. I’ve never had the opportunity to be friends with someone “long-term” before, and I’m learning how to do it. Overall, the negative things are minor, and I am learning to work through them and overcome them.

POSITIVE - I have compassion for immigrants! When I see someone trying to order at a restaurant or something like that, I just want to help them - I know what it feels like to be lost in a new culture. I have different values. A lot of the fads and fashions don’t mean anything to me - of course, that can make it harder to relate to my peers, but it’s also a good thing. I realize there’s more than one way of doing life. That takes some of the pressure off. I’m not afraid to be different - I’ve been different my whole life.



Q: Do you have any words of advice or encouragement for mothers who are raising their children overseas?

A: 1) Watch your attitudes. Your children will pick up on your attitudes, especially toward your host country and the local people. If you express distaste, frustration, fear, etc they will either pick that up and also be discontent and frustrated, or (as they begin to identify with the local culture) they will get bitter towards you for your attitude.

2) Understand how hard it is for your adult children to transition back to the States. Don’t pity them, but be there for them. Remember what it was like for you when you first moved overseas - and realize it's that hard or harder for them. Give them the support they need, help them fill in the gaps.

 

Great words of wisdom for us as moms raising TCKs! Many thanks to this brave friend for sharing her heart!

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  • Guest - Vallerrie

    Thank you for this post, and thank you to your young friend for being willing to share. With grandchildren overseas, it is an encouragement to me that it is possible for young people to grow up in a totally different culture and still come to the states to adjust and prosper.

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