Third Culture Kids Book Review

Posted by  | Monday, May 9, 2011  at 8:00 AM  
One of the books I am currently reading is Third Culture Kids by Pollock and Reken. It's research-based and, at times, reads more like a textbook than novel, but it is full of thought-provoking stories of Adult TCKs (ATCKs) and the benefits and challenges of growing up as TCKs. For reference, a TCK is a child who is from one country (passport country) and lives overseas in a host country during his formative years (birth - 18). While he is still growing and figuring out the world, he is heavily influenced by a mix of these two cultures, and, therefore, has become known as a Third Culture Kid. A TCK can be a TCK for a variety of reasons - perhaps his parents are in the military, business, or missions to name a few. As adults,they are often most comfortable around other TCKs - even if they have had totally different experiences in completely different countries. The basic characteristics of a TCK lifestyle are what unite them and create this third culture in their lives.

While it's always in the back of my mind that my children are growing up as TCKs, I guess I've thought, too, that since they are still so young this is not something I need to give great thought to now. However, after diving into this book, I'm seeing how, even now, my kids are impacted by us living overseas. Not that these impacts are negative - but I do need to be realistic and know that there are struggles and challenges unique to TCKs and how I help and respond to my children in these situations is crucial.

The two biggest things that help define life for a TCK are cross-cultural living and high mobility (not just for them, but others coming and going in their lives too). TCKs tend to identify more with people than with a place. Yet, because they are always saying goodbye's to people there can be guilt and grief that should not be left unresolved. My children, aged 2, 2, and 4 currently, have already had more worldwide travel experiences than their grandparents, aunts, and uncles have ever had. In the past year alone, they have had six homes, lived in four countries, and been immersed in three languages. As such, I want to do everything I can to help them not only survive, but thrive, in the lives we live. Listening, listening, listening is so important. Taking cues from them as to how they are feeling and trying to talk about relationships and potential issues before they become problems is crucial. Ultimately, I want my children to know they are loved, valued, and cherished by their parents and we are always, no matter what, there for them to support, listen, and help. When they grieve in the goodbyes - both in their traveling as well as others moving away from them - I want them to run to us and know we are there to listen and not "preach." This was one of biggest things I'm taking away from this book - they will face hardships and grief; it is how I allow them to process it that could either point them closer to Him or further away. Sharing a higher cause for why we go is not always the most appropriate response in the goodbyes.

Ultimately, my goal is for them to know and love our Lord and Savior and long to make Him known to the lost. It is my prayer that our lives would point them toward Him and not away one day in an act of rebellion to their TCK upbringing. I know many of our readers with TCKs also long for this. . . and I would encourage you to read this book in this journey. It brings up good ideas to think through as we travel together on this road of raising children overseas.

1 comment:

roger and courtney said...

I had a chance to go to a lecture given by Ruth Van Reken in Bangkok a few weeks ago. It was really interesting and it also made me think a lot about the things my kids are experiencing and will experience growing up overseas.

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