Real kids and real dads spending time together…the message being sent is, I love you. I enjoy time with you. I care.
I often talk about the messages that children’s book send to kids.
I work with five-year-olds but the message we are sending them, and have been sending them forever is really awful. We all know about the turtle and the hare. Kids are given a choice between being the talent but erratic hare and the plodding but steady tortoise. Nobody really wants to be the tortoise! We all just want to be a less foolish hare. This book tries to put forward the power of effort but it gives the effort a bad name. It reinforces the image that effort is for plodders and suggests that in rare instances when talented people drop the ball, the plodder can sneak through.
Expats . . . We hit the airport. We travel long distances to get back to “home” and we continually think about our kid’s friends. Do they need more? Do they need different ones?
Some expats pack up and move during the summer so they can get ready for a new location, a new school, and a new life. That summer means new friends. Due to the movement in International Schools, this means at some point; this child will seem friendless or so sad when their ‘best friend’ moves on. It might be your child that is left behind. Summer time can be hard on kids in transition. They might already be worrying about what is going to happen when they go back to school, and their best friend is gone.
Each child needs to feel connected and involved with other children. This is often through a common interest, gymnastics, after school activities, sleepovers, etc. This does not mean that during the school day that they need to be only connected to their best friend. In fact, parents and teachers will ask them to find other friends or to branch out their social connections.
It is important for a child to have a connection or a best buddy to help them through transition times. It is nice to see a familiar face when you have the first day of school. Or it is nice to be with a few friends when you move from elementary school to middle school. There are times that a connection is a critical part of a child’s life. These connections are often missing in the expat child’s life due to frequently moves.
But We Can Have Problems with Friends
The biggest pitfall is when your child’s friend limits your child from making new friends. Or does not let him/her make friends that might open their choices or focus on new things to do. It is hard for a child to form an interest in a new sport or new musical instrument if they never hear or see a peer involved in the activity. Kids learn by seeing others do it. If you have a reluctant reader do you just want them to be with other kids who love to play outside all the time or do you want them also to have a friend that loves to read and will get them into trying new books.
I feel it is important for children to have close connections to their family as well as friends. To shape these vital close relationships, you need to understand the way healthy relationships develop. I have a master’s in clinical psychology and work with a focus on family therapy with our international population. I often educate parents on ‘Neufeld Six Stages of Attachment ‘.
1. The most primitive and primary stage of attachment is PROXIMITY. Through touch, contact, and closeness, the infant begins attaching to his or her parents.
2. Secondly, toddlers seek SAMENESS with their parents, mimicking their mannerisms or dress, and looking for ways to be the same as their parents.
3. The third stage is BELONGING or LOYALTY. Often three-year-olds will be very possessive and say “my mommy or my daddy.”
4. Four-year-olds seek reassurance of the strength of their attachment to parents by wanting evidence of their SIGNIFICANCE. This is the fourth stage.
5. The fifth stage develops around the age of five when we see the beginnings of genuine LOVE as attachment goes deeper and deeper.
6. And finally, the sixth stage. From age six onward, if the attachment roots have gone deeply enough, we have a child who allows him or herself to venture out into BEING KNOWN.
This creates the foundation for virtually every relationship your child will ever have, beginning with parents, and later with siblings, friends, and intimate partners. This attachment is the cornerstone of parenting. It can help with keeping your child on track academically, managing challenging behavior, and maintaining the all-important role of being the one they turn to for advice and support.
But Sadly –
Parents often put more of a focus on their child’s friends than they do on their own parent/child connection. They take it for granted that because they are the parent this parent/child connection will be strong and secure.
I feel that a child to child friendship is vital, but they are also very ‘natural.’ If children are given some freedom with the day, they will find friends and enjoy doing things together.
If a child has too much structure and no free time, finding and keeping friends becomes the job of the parents, and it tends not to be natural and therefore not a very strong connection for the children.
This is the time that kids can foster fun friendships and learn how a relationship webs and flows. It is important that parents allow down time, free time and fun time for their kids during the summer. Let them seek out older friends or younger friends. Let them play. Let them make a great connection. Even if you know, it is just a summer thing. Each and every friendship we make and let go of helps us as global people to grow.
I had the pleasure of seeing two different events this weekend where a young child felt or showed an overwhelming feeling of reverence or awe. One event was beautiful, and one wasa simple everyday event.
As the breeze came off the ocean, a small little girl grabbed a towel and snuggled down into a beach chair. Suddenly the sky overhead burst into bright colors and beautiful showers of fireworks. She said, “Oh, Ahh” and her chin dropped leaving her mouth speechless. We all enjoyed the fireworks for the King of Thailand’s birthday. Her father explained what was going on in Thai and she pressed her palms together near her chest and completed the wai. The wai is a unique, graceful action practiced throughout Thailand. It plays an essential part in showing respect and is central to Thai etiquette.
Being American, I have had many opportunities to experience fireworks and at times have felt awesome feelings of respect for what they were being shown as part of a celebration. Events such as the ‘Tahoe Blue Fireworks Festival” at Incline Village, NV the summer after 911 or the fireworks over Cape Town, South Africa to celebrate Nelson Mandela presidential win after serving 27 years in prison on Robben Island. It was hard to find words to show my appreciation and respect.
This little one said it best. Sometimes being speechless is a perfect choice.
Earlier in the day, I ran into a small boy who had the same sort of wonderment over an escalator. He was either running across the hotel lobby to get to the stairs or weaving wildly from the top landing of the stairs to us below. My favorite moment was when he stopped directly under the sign that stated that children had to be attended. We certainly had our attention on him, but I don’t think that was what the ‘attended’ sign meant.
Children love escalators so you can easily use them to explain how emotions can vary in intensity and change. All children can work on building their emotional vocabulary. I set up the story with these examples:
Do you ever go on those moving stairs in a big building? We are going to look at these six emotions and see how they work with each other. Let’s make this our “ground floor.” You are on the ground floor. Here are six emotions that are in ABC order. Let’s put them on the emotion escalator.
The child receives these words on individual index cards, anxiety, comfort, confident, discomfort, hope, and worry. I read each word as I hand it to him.
“Make them into two piles. You will have one group that is going down the escalator. Things you worry about or things that bother you.”
I use the exact word “worry,” so this can guide your child since this is the first time he has been introduced to the emotion escalator. Watch him shuffle the cards and answer any questions he has about the words. Work together to show how on the ground level you can choose to go up to comfort or move down to discomfort.
Going down you find after discomfort comes worry and then anxiety. When you are back on the ground level, you can head up to comfort again, and then you can get to hope and move on up to confident. Use words that imply you have a choice in which way you move and to take ownership of your own emotions. Children love to move the index cards around. Some children even take small dolls to travel up and down the emotion escalator. One child colored the lower levels red and the upper levels green. She made a colorful flower garden on the ground level and a rainbow on the top floor. She got this example and personalized it.
How do you learn?
When I talk about their “learning” in class, I use five emotion cards: boredom, curiosity, fascination, indifference, and interest. It is important to highlight to your child that when she is feeling indifferent during a school lesson that she has to be very careful to not slip down into boredom because this means she is switched off learning. I had a young girl yell out across the crowded playground, “Ms. Julia, I was indifferent, but I didn’t go to boredom.” She was a very proud five-year-old that was struggling to learn her ‘home language’. She had mastered English but was behind in her home language and found these classes hard to stay focused in.
When working in a school, learning is always an important focus. I have kids think about how frustration then confusion and on up to puzzlement puts us on the ground level of our building. When we go upstairs, we get insightful on up to enlightened and then the top floor is euphoric. These are hard words for many children but using the emotion escalator, they really understand them and enjoy learning new ways to express how they are feeling. I encourage them at confusion to talk to their teacher, so they don’t go down to frustration. This is their choice, to get help or get stuck in the basement.
Awe can be a hard emotion to explain. Start with terror at the lowest level. Move up to dread. Then travel up to apprehension. You are on the ground floor. Now move up to calm, then up to enchanted. The next level up is enthralled. The top floor is awe.
My weekend was full of young children who experienced enchantment. They were enthralled. Their faces were full of awe.
Each person on the board dedicates their time and effort to bring together people around the world to share in the joy of ‘global nomads’. The Board of Directors provides the leadership for FIGT. These individuals are dedicated to making a difference in the lives of internationally relocating families. Directors are elected at annual meetings for a term of two years.
Families in Global Transition is a welcoming forum for globally mobile individuals, families, and those working with them. We promote cross-sector connections for sharing research and developing best practices that support the growth, success and well-being of people crossing cultures around the world.
David C. Pollock Scholarship
The David C. Pollock Scholarship Fund pays tribute to international educator, sociologist and co-author of Third Culture Kids, David C. Pollock. His tireless support, vision and dedication to families in global transition impacted countless people in every corner of the globe. Building on Pollock’s legacy, FIGT aims to attract, involve and educate emerging, global-minded, intercultural leaders.
The David C. Pollock Scholarship provides highly motivated individuals working or studying in the intercultural field the opportunity to attend the FIGT conference. The ideal Scholarship applicant will demonstrate how attending the FIGT conference will help jumpstart a project, profession and/or entrepreneurial endeavor that contributes to others in global transition. Each Scholarship recipient will have the opportunity to establish life-long professional connections and contribute his or her unique gifts to FIGT during and beyond the conference.
THE FIGT CONFERENCE
The FIGT Conference, often referred to as the grassroots “think tank” for families relocating globally, offers leading edge methods, research and cross-sector collaboration. It is the only conference in the world where representatives of the corporate, diplomatic, academic, military, mission, arts and entrepreneurial sectors gather to share their knowledge and skills. In an open and inquisitive environment, FIGT specifically addresses the developmental impact of international relocation on families and children, and the conference offers a fertile exchange of strategies toward realizing successful global transitions.
Put April 26-28 on your calendar! See you at the NIST International School, Bangkok Thailand https://www.figt.org/2019_Conference
Kansas Day commemorates the admission of the state as the 34th in the Union ( USA) on January 29, 1861. Schools have been marking the anniversary since 1877 by learning more about their state’s history.
The Simens family of four have been celebrating Kansas Day for many years – Why? I spent the first 18 years of my life in northwest Kansas. It is part of me. I wanted to keep this part of my history in my life. I have held Kansas day parties in American Samoa, Singapore, Australia, Indonesia, Nigeria, Thailand, Honduras, as well as in California, Hawaii, and Texas. BUT, I have never held a Kansas Day party in Kansas.
Words of Wisdom
Global families often wonder what holidays to celebrate. They wonder what should be important for their children to have memories of or what events they should celebrate. Selecting holidays is never an easy decision especially in our cross-cultural families or for our families that have lived in a variety of locations. Whatever you choose to celebrate – make it a ritual. Celebrate that holiday every year no matter where you are or who you are with at that time.
This year – we will be doing a take on the pioneers who lived in Kansas. Several of our friends in Roatan will be meeting us on the pier for “Pie” and “Beers.” Thanks to Heather a friend from college, who told about this type of celebration and it seemed perfect for my annual Kansas Day party on Roatan.
Here is one of my favorite stories about Kansas, God, and a pet.(Sounds like a great country western song.)
God was missing for six days. Eventually, Michael, the archangel found him, resting on the seventh day.
He inquired, “Where have you been?”
God smiled deeply and proudly pointed downwards through the clouds, “Look, Michael. Look what I’ve made.”
Archangel Michael looked puzzled, and said, “What is it?”
“It’s a planet,” replied God, and I’ve put life on it. I’m going to call it Earth, and it’s going to be a place to test Balance.”
“Balance?” inquired Michael, “I’m still confused.”
God explained, pointing to different parts of Earth. “For example, part of Europe will be a place of great opportunity and wealth, while another part of Europe is going to be poor. Over here I’ve placed a continent of white people, and over there is a continent of darker people. Balance in all things.”
God continued pointing to different countries. “This one will be scorching hot, while this one will be cold and covered in ice.”
The Archangel, impressed by God’s work, then pointed to a land area and said, “What’s that one?”
“That’s Kansas, the most glorious place on earth. There are beautiful rolling hills and prairies, rivers and streams, lakes, forests, hills, and the plains.” Then God Said, “This is Kansas, the center of America.
The people of Kansas are going to be handsome, modest, intelligent, and humorous, and they are going to travel the world. They will be extremely sociable, hardworking, high achieving, carriers of peace, and producers of good things. They will care about animals and have pets.”
Michael gasped in wonder and admiration, but then asked, “But what about balance, God? You said there would be a balance.”
God smiled, “I did have to put a few idiots in other parts of the world.”
I always wonder how strong my own child’s sense of identity or “where they are from” will be since they have spent all of their lives in chunks of four or five years on different continents. As my one child said, ” I am 4% Australian since I was born there and lived there for a while. I am 25 % African since I have lived there a long time. I am 25% American since I spend most of my summer holidays there. I am 45% Indonesian since I lived there so long. Of course, I am 1 % Thai since this is my home now.” He had decided to map his timeline by months so it would reflect the summer months he spent in the USA.
On another note, I wonder how he will introduce himself to peers in college? Or more importantly, will he be able to find that small of group friends that have grown up like him, a citizen of the world.
What did you learn at your Grandma’s Kitchen Table? What lessons? What feelings come up when you remember what it was like sitting at your grandma’s kitchen table?
At my Grandma Wright’s kitchen table outside of Russell Springs, Kansas, I learned about family and love. Grandma spread the love by teaching us all to make pies! It almost seemed like a ritual. Family rituals are to make connections and show love. That is what she did. We’d head out to Grandma’s house, then pick some fruit or rhubarb out of her garden. Maybe go to the root cellar to get a jar of preserves for the pie. These types of rituals can be significant for all families but vital for global nomads.
I am an expert at making pies, mostly because I made a ton of pies in 4-H when I was young. I am a firm believer in the mastery of something when you are young, and you still think it is fun.
In 4-H, I did a lot of different activities. I raised sheep; JC and Casey were my pets until I sold them. This money went towards University, and I was only ten years old when I raised them for almost a year. I did public speaking. I did knitting (I still can’t cast off). I made clothes; I cooked more food than you can imagine and I even did leather work. Adults in the community spent time teaching us how to do things. We had pride in our finished products. We won ribbons, and if our projects were good enough we could take it to state and compete with lots of other children. My exposure to 4-H helped me get one of my scholarships to college.
I was the Betty Crocker award winner, meaning I had to take a written test about cooking and prove that I understood the concepts behind ‘cooking.’ When you are trying to put yourself through college, all scholarships are huge, and you are so appreciative to get them. I am glad I learned how to cook when I was young; I am delighted I was able to apply that knowledge into math, science and other aspects of the school. But I am most proud of is being able to teach my children how to make a pie! It all started around a kitchen table.
FIGT’s Kitchen Table
When FIGT was first starting out, they would meet around a kitchen table. Ruth Van Reken shared that when they were planning the third FIGT conference, John Aoun, Betty Mullin and Joyce Blake would come to her home every Monday night to work and plan that conference. They were all volunteers, and they found the value of the “kitchen table.” We are lucky that FIGT kept that concept as it grew.
At #FIGT2019, I am honored to be able to present Bangkok 101: A Mother’s View vs Her High School Child’s View
Having lived five years in Bangkok with a teenager, I will cover three events where our perceptions differed greatly from mother to son. We will share the challenges of making connections in this city. Then the group will have a lively discussion on making and keeping connections and the importance of family traditions.
The good news is at all #FIGT conferences you can learn and share around the kitchen tables! Please note, no pie will be served at this kitchen table talk. The FIGT rituals of Kitchen Table discussions are to make connections, grow and show compassion.
An Expat’s Tale of 12 Outstanding Christmas Memories
Celebrating Christmas abroad
can be a
Here are my 12 favorite ways we have celebrated Christmas.
1. With my friends from Brazil – they shared the myth of the animals discussion about the birth of Christ. Then their children acted out a rooster crowing “Christ is born,” an Ox saying “Where” and the sheep answering “In Bethlehem.” These were the cutest kids ever. Our Turkey dinner turkey was served with white rice flavored with walnuts.
2. With my friends from Vietnam. As an old French colony, Vietnam is the home of one of the largest and most active Catholic populations in Asia. Our holiday celebration was several weeks after New Year’s Eve. We celebrated “Tet,” the Vietnamese holiday for the Lunar New Year. I thought the green wrapped sticky rice cakes were too pretty to unwrap but we did unwrap the Chung Cake, and it was lovely. We also enjoyed the beef braised with cinnamon. They called it Thit Bo Kho Que.
3. With my friends from Italy – First Sunday of Advent where we shared a lovely dinner. Their children told us about lighting candles in their windows to guide baby Jesus who will deliver gifts. The story I loved the most was told by their six-year-old about the candy cane coffee cake. He said, ” There was a candy maker who invented this for Christ. It was hard cause Christ is the rock of ages. It is made into a “J” for Jesus, but he liked to turn it upside down to remind him of the sheepherders staff or
He said, ” There was a candy maker who invented this for Christ. It was hard cause Christ is the rock of ages. It is made into a “J” for Jesus, but he liked to turn it upside down to remind him of the sheepherders staff or cane” It was white for the pureness of Christ and red for the blood he shed for sins. If there is green on it, it is a reminder that Jesus is a gift from God.”
Mary at the Simens Home, Photo by Grant Simens
4. With my friends from Germany – they shared with us their unique items they got from the Christkindlmarkt! In Bangkok – Seems like we have many of the same Christmas traditions which did make sense since our Christmas roots are from Germany. I still have the manger scene from that party. I do believe the Lebkuchen (gingerbread) was the best I have ever had. I was impressed with the punch (Feuerzangenbowle). It was hot mulled wine, high alcohol-percentage rum, and open flames. What’s not to like about that!
5. With my friends from Russia – Father Frost visited on New Year’s Day where we had a tree lighting festival and exchanged gifts. We had pickled cucumbers to “go with vodka” and the largest bowl of caviar placed on chipped ice that I have ever seen. They had made Kozulya, cookies in the shape of a deer, goat or a sheep. They are traditionally enjoyed during the first days of the Christmas season.
6. With my friends from Turkey, we celebrated December 6th the Feast of Saint Nicholas as the beginning of the Christmas season. We had Turkish coffee and Kaymakli Kuru Kayisis (cream stuffed apricots).
7. With my friends from Chile, we shared “monkey’s tail” on the island of Bali. At first, I was worried but then found out that Cola de Mono (monkey’s tail) spirits with coffee, milk, and cloves. Yummy! We also had a Chilean Sponge cake that was flavored with cloves and nuts (Pan de Pascua).
8. With my friends from Korea – Did you know Korea is one of the largest and fastest growing Christian population in Asia? We had the best night singing Christmas carols. Loud and, again and again, our favorites ones. It was the first time I saw a Santa in a blue Santa suit. He is known as known as Santa Harabujee) or Grandpa Santa.
9. Spending Christmas in Spain was an enjoyable experience. With our friends from Madrid, we saw many life-sized manger scenes and the first time we celebrated the Eve of Epiphany (January 5th). The Three Wise Men placed gifts in the shoes our children left outside of the hotel door. The hotel manager asked us to join in this tradition.
10. Our son, Grant after visiting the Czech Republic told us of the festival of Saint Nicholas on December 6th and the Three Kings Day on January 6th. That sounds like a whole month long of fantastic food and fun. I did like the gold-colored sweet Christmas bread – (vánočka or štola).
11. On Rarotonga, Cook Island we went to midnight Mass, and all the children were dressed in white and looked like angels. Their singing was magical.
12. With family – any location. Special memories made and shared. Christmas is indeed the time to connect. We often celebrate with rituals that involve food and fun memories.
Home can be anywhere for a Global Nomad – Booklet by Jennifer Schnoebelen
Embrace the “global-ness” we all have and share a part of our life with your quasi-family you have collected during your time abroad.
We are now celebrating the holiday season in Lake Tahoe. I have several friends from the past and newly found friends. In fact on the timeline of life, we have only just met but who knows we might run across each other around the world as we all celebrate with our nuclear family in our chosen place to spend Christmas this year.
I have been so lucky! I have had many once-in-a-lifetime unique treats!
To do List in regards to Christmas and food:
Brazil and try Rabanada (French toast)
Italy and try Panettone in Milan, Pandoro in Verona, Panforte in Tuscany and Prosecco in Veneto.
Germany and try a Christmas Stollen (Christstollen) a fruitcake with bits of candied fruits, raisins, walnuts and almonds and spices such as cardamom and cinnamon. Try a Pfefferkuchenhaus – a gingerbread house decorated with candies, sweets and sugar icing (in reference to the gingerbread house of the fairy tale Hänsel and Gretel)
Cuba to try Crema De Vie – Cuban eggnog, made with condensed milk, rum, sugar syrup, lemon rind, cinnamon, and egg yolk.
Denmark to try Æbleskiver – traditional Danish spherical pancakes (a type of doughnut with no hole), sprinkled with powdered sugar and served with raspberry jam. To also try Julebryg – Christmas beer.
Jamaica to try black cake – a heavy fruit cake made with dried fruit, wine, and rum.
Lithuania to have a Twelve-dish Christmas Eve supper – twelve dishes representing the twelve Apostles or twelve months of the year.