Memories are what bind families together around the world. Memories shared are quality time spent with family. Memories are often all we have of past times.
Memory is a way of holding onto the things you love, the things you are, the things you never want to lose, wise words from Fred Savage. He played Kevin Arnold in The Wonder Years.
It’s 1968. The Suburbs. And in each little house with a Chevy in the driveway and a TV in the den, there are people with stories…families band together in laughter, hope, love and wonder (season 1). Its lack of laugh tracks and a single camera set up were revolutionary.
The Wonder Years set itself apart from other shows of its time, production-wise, with its single camera setup, use of a narrator, and complete lack of laugh track. “The Wonder Years [showed the television industry] that it’s OK to create a show like that—to take out the laugh track, to try different camera styles—to take a risk,” said Josh Saviano.
Resilience – one of the most common thread is the quality of time spent with family
Five hundred twenty-five thousand moments so dear – How do you measure, measure a year?
In daylights – in sunsets – In midnights – in cups of coffee – In inches – in miles – In laughter
How do you measure a year in the life?
How about love? – Measure in love – Seasons of love
I am usually not one to talk much about my personal romances. Some things are private even if you blog about “home life” and “parenting.”
My first kiss was…
My first love was …
At times, it is hard to remember since Kevin has been a part of my life for 30 years!
At one time I did have a boyfriend younger than I was…
At one time I did date a basketball player …
I remember my first kiss with Kevin…
And I remember the last one…
You will see the reasons for my questions if you watch this film. I love the rainbow in the short movie. Briands Apricot evokes forgotten memories. This movie is a film for the Dreamers, a film for the romantics and a film for film lovers.
This year, the day we were to celebrate our 30th Wedding Anniversary, we were apart. It did seem appropriate enough that I was with my flower girl from my wedding 30 years ago but not with Kevin.
I can’t imagine anything better than to be with my flower girl as an adult sharing the things that I love. We were at the Women in Tech conference in NOLA. Collision Conf 2017 was a great event this year. Imagine three women sharing all different backgrounds thriving at a conference. Amy, my flower girl, and niece is a graphic designer, Jackie – my daughter is a computer consultant and myself representing Families in Global Transition, we all found #Collusionconf a treasured experience.
Now back to Kevin, We had spent 946,080,000 seconds in love (not counting the three months we were engaged and the few shorts weeks before that when we met) There are so many things I remember about the last 30 years.
A visible record will provide some perspective
A few things stand out –
When we first decided we would start a ‘global life,’ Kevin wanted to give me a gift to symbolize our move from the USA to Singapore. Of course, he bought me a lovely gem! Little did he know that this simple tradition would slowly grow into a beautiful collection with so many International moves under our belts. I am a firm believer that family traditions are a must for all families but vital for mobile households! These types of rituals don’t have to be big or expensive – it is the simple traditions that keep a family strong.
When we made our first move from the USA overseas, I remember the excitement. We jointly made the long inventory list. We packed up many suitcases. We stuffed the air shipment full. We moved. We unpacked together and went shopping for our new home together. The last international move, I updated the inventory. I left and went to the USA for the summer holiday. Later that year, we packed up our home in Bangkok, Thailand and got it ready to head to Balikpapan, Indonesia.
On that our last international move from Bangkok to Balikpapan – Kevin sent the air shipment off to our son’s college. Kevin unpacked our home in Balikpapan. Kevin then meet me in the USA where I was still on vacation. I didn’t do much for this move.
But, our very last step was when we repatriated to the USA. Being a repatriate is very different than being an expat. We tried to consolidate all of our belongings so they would fit into our USA based home. The work before the actual move was a hard time. The actual move was smooth. We were going back to a fully functioning home, so we had no worries or concerns about the items being sent “home.” We also could care less when the items arrived. It was a stressless move until the boxes showed up!
It is important that global families are flexible with what works best for them at that moment in time.
When we retired, we packed up our expat life together and headed to the USA. We would not be returning to work. We were starting a new life of not “working.” I was excited.
When we first moved overseas, we went as a family of two to Singapore. We had long walks together, fun dinners with lively conversations and many talks about the upcoming trips we would be doing. Two children later and 18 years with kids in elementary and high school, we are once again alone. When we left Borneo, we were again, a family of two.
Today we are enjoying long walks together, fun dinners and many talks about planning family vacations. Last year, we jumped on a paddle wheeler and cruised around Emerald Bay. We cruised around Fannette Island, the only island in Lake Tahoe. We looked at Vikingsholm, an excellent example of Scandinavian architecture which is a 38-room mansion.
This year we did a beautiful walk on the beach of Lake Tahoe, had champagne in front of the fireplace since it had snowed last night. Then we went to Soule Domain for a wonderful dinner celebration.
It is important that the adults in the family remain close, so the children benefit from the quality of time spent with family.
It had been a great 30 years!
For those family members that flew to the San Francisco Bay area for our wedding, I am glad you were a part of my memories. We are lucky enough to spend our 25th with about 25 of our best friends in Bangkok, and I am thankful for those memories.
This year we didn’t get 30 of our close friends together, but we wanted to! So plan to come to Tahoe on May 2nd next year, and we will invite you to our anniversary party!
For Amy and Jackie – thanks so much for attending Collision Women in Tech 2017 with me. Those memories are priceless!
Notes: Movie – APRICOT -A Short Film by Ben Briand
by Moonwalk Films
Winner: Community Choice Award
Voted Best Narrative on Vimeo by its users
I believe that experiences in the early years of your child’s life deeply impact him for the rest of his life.
Rituals are emotionally enriching. May is often the month for Graduation. Graduation from preschool, graduation from Kindergarten, Graduation from elementary school and graduation from High school (USA focus). Some graduations are fun and some are stressful.
I believe that these levels can be important milestones but in the younger years, we really need to have the event be driven by the children and make sure it is age appropriate.
I just experienced an age appropriate ceremony.
The children had each published their own writing story. They shared their new books by inviting their parents into the classroom. They had decorated the room, they had made their own brownies in the school kitchen, they poured their juice, served the guests first and were as ‘proud’ as any child could ever be. Parents took a ton of pictures. This was a successful ritual that marked a milestone. These children had moved from Kindergarten into the larger elementary school.
Then I attended a different kindergarten graduation.
Parents decorated the room, they purchased a cake, children had to wear uncomfortable clothes. They had it in a huge auditorium. Some kids were scared to walk across the stage alone. Parents took a lot of pictures.
This was a school created ritual. Kids received a diploma but they did not show the same pride as the children who had produced their own book from their computer and a printer.
There is no right or wrong way to create a ritual but often these things evolve into something far off from what they started out being in the first place. Sometimes new parents come onto the scene and want to make it “better and bigger” than last year. They lose site that this celebration should be meaningful to the children and that the children should be involved and engaged in the process and not just photo props.
Rituals are memories – have you checked on yours lately?
When I graduated, I can remember the dress I wore, who I had to try and walk down the isle at the same time matching step to step and I remember walking across the stage to get a single red rose. I don’t remember the importance of that graduation, just that we did it.
When I graduated from University – I remember every detail of this ritual. I remember how hard it was to maintain the grades I needed in order to get the scholarships I needed. I remember locking in a job before I walked across the stage to get my diploma. I remember every person who was on that stage that day and what they said to me. Due to the time of the event, I only had friends at the graduation. I remember my friends. Some are still close friends 30 years later.
The ritual that stands out the most for me is my son’s preschool graduation. He attended an Indonesian international play school. The kids spent several months learning about their host country, the music, the customs, and the rituals that happen in Indonesia. When their special day came, they got to pick out an outfit they wanted to wear as a celebrational outfit. They got to pick if they’d do a dance, a song, or share art from their host country. My son decided to recite the poem “Pelangi, Pelangi”.
Merah, kuning, hijau
Di langit yang biru
Later I learned that the English words to his poem were:
How beautiful you are!
Red, yellow, green
On the blue sky.
Your great painter,
I’m a Creation of God.
I love this ritual if it is driven by the young students – I hate this ritual when it is driven by the parents and has no connection to the child. What is your school doing this year? It is not too late to make some changes and make it a ritual that is meaningful.
I spend an enormous amount of my time trying to help children see how they fit in with their peers and how to understand what social clues are out there to know what behavior is acceptable. It is a fun but challenging job.
Some kids are quick to see the benefits of being socially aware others could care less. Children who come into my office are there to get help and support. It is not the branch of the school that deals with punishment. So often, kids think my office is fun, and we celebrate their strengths. I reflect on my work as a ‘party’ most days. In a recent conference in Washington DC, I told them I had the best job in the world.
Where ever you are, celebrate with friends and family. Join the crowd and use #WorldPartyDay to share on social media.
Since 1996, April 3 has been declared World Party Day. Did you celebrate? One year, I did not, I was involved in two of my least favorite things in the world…travel in economy class and a phone notification that my mother was in the emergency room. Yikes, not a celebration of any sort.
This year, I am in Roatan with my best friends, Pauline and Carol. We will be going to El Paso for the super baleadas to start our celebration. We are hoping to listen to Mickey Charteris talk about Caribbean Reef Life this evening.
“The idea of a worldwide party appeared as a work of fiction in Flight, A Quantum Fiction Novel, by American writer Vanna Bonta. The trilogy’s first book, published in 1995, ended with a countdown that was to take place on April 3, 2000, postulating that on that day the entire world would celebrate synchronously in elevated social awareness.”
Do you know this TCK?
In her early life, Bonta’s cultural experiences branched worldwide from her American-Italian-Dutch ancestry. Her father, a military officer, was raised in a small town in the American south. Her mother, a fine art painter, was born and raised in Florence, Italy. Bonta traveled the world with her family, living in Thailand as a young girl for six years when her father was stationed there as a diplomat.
Vanna attended an international school with children of many nationalities who practiced different religions. The experience fostered an understanding and interest in universal humanity, as well as an environment for learning four languages.
I love this massive worldwide phenomenon now in progress involves millions of individuals, organizations, and corporations around the world who are realizing a responsibility and ability to contribute positively to the collective future of Humanity and Earth.
Throughout April, I will be continuing the World Party Day theme!
I will be celebrating when we (a child and me) look into their social situation and can see what he/she can relate to and what they can do next. I look at social awareness as knowing ourselves in society and knowing what is going on in society. It is a two-prong situation.
So why do we need to be aware, because information about the society and its issues make us more responsible for the community? If kids are taught about social issues and problems, they will make an effort to do something about it, therefore improving society as a whole.
Do emotions help us make more ethical decisions?
Many of you know I work with kids and their feelings – big time. This is key to so many things in their life. Do emotions help us make better ethical decisions? I believe they do. If the child cannot understand their own emotions or tune into the emotions of others in their family or with peers, this is a huge risk. If the child is unable to make ethical decisions, they are a risk to themselves and a risk to society.
There are a lot of social problems around the world. It is essential that more and more people be made aware of these issues so that we can fight them as a united world. Social awareness also makes the individual more mature and thoughtful when it comes to making important decisions for themselves or society.
Here are some of the more creative campaigns from around the world on social awareness.
Don’t miss the debut album from World Party Karl Wallinger’s insightful songs deal primarily with the responsibility of the individual to recognize and cope with the problems of the world. The song, World Party, is well worth a listen. Wallinger is a multi-instrumentalist, enabling him to demo and record the bulk of World Party material as a one-man band.
World Party Day or (P-Day) was celebrated in United States, France, England, Africa, Italy, China, Korea, Vietnam, India, and Thailand. There is a simultaneous celebration of World Party Day that occurs in every continent of the world. The celebration has no religious or political connections. The theme of World Party Day celebrations is a “universal human right to fun, peace, and life.”
Global podcasts featured a variety of music and radio stations reading from the novel Flight.
The Quadrille Dance Parade is a fun event – check it out!
April is Child Abuse Month in the USA.
Protective factors are conditions in families and communities that, when present, increase the health and well-being of children and families. They are attributes that serve as buffers, helping parents who might otherwise be at risk of abusing their children to find resources, supports, or coping strategies that allow them to parent effectively, even under stress. All international teachers and counselors need to know what protective factors they can offer the parents they work with.
Sometimes the global nomads are the ones at most risk.
I was on an American Foreign Service Association panel on TCK’s, where Ruth Van Reken pointed out that sexual abuse was a worldwide concern. Ruth is the leading authority in the social science field of ‘third culture kids”, ‘third culture adults” and “cross-cultural kids.”
Research has shown that these protective factors link to a lower incidence of child abuse and neglect.
Six Protective Factors
1) Nurturing and Attachment
I often blog about the importance of attachment, in fact, I do it so much, that I am considered an attachment specialist. When parents and children have strong, positive feelings for one another, children develop trust that their parents will provide what they need to thrive, including love, acceptance, positive guidance, and protection.
The impact of nurturing on development:
- Information about infant and toddler development, including brain development
- The importance of an early secure attachment between parents and young children
- Examples of secure parent-child attachment at all ages
Parenting strategies that promote nurturing:
- Cultural differences in how parents and children show affection
- How fathers nurture children
- Ways to engage other important adults as part of a child’s “nurturing network.”
2) Knowledge of Parenting and Child Development
Parents who understand how children grow and develop can provide an environment where children can live up to their potential. Addressing developmental challenges such as inconsolable crying, bedwetting, eating or sleeping problems, lying, school issues, problems with peers, and puberty is important things parents need to know.
3) Parental resilience
Resilience is the ability to handle everyday stressors and recovers from occasional crises. Parents who are emotionally resilient have a positive attitude, creatively solve problems, effectively address challenges, and are less likely to direct anger and frustration at their children. When parents identify and communicate what worries them most, there is an opportunity to offer some coping strategies and resources to begin to deal with the stress. Parents are not always aware how their ability to cope with stress may impact their capacity to parent and their children’s development.
Find ways to build resilience
- Stress management techniques, such as regular exercise, relaxation to music, and meditation or prayer
- How to prevent stress by planning ahead, anticipating difficulties, and having resources in place
- How to anticipate and minimize everyday stress
- How to handle major stressors, including accessing resources and supports from family, friends, faith communities, and other community resources
4) Social connections
Evidence linked social isolation and perceived the lack of support to child maltreatment. Trusted and caring family and friends provide emotional support to parents by offering encouragement and assistance in facing the daily challenges of raising a family. Sometimes parents will not identify a lack of social connections or emotional support as an issue. Instead, they may express concern about a child’s behavior problem or their depression.
Benefits of a broad social network
- Helps ease the burden of parenting
- Models positive social interactions for children and gives children access to other supportive adults
- Provides support in crises
- Offers opportunities to help others
5) Concrete support for parents
Many factors beyond the parent-child relationship affect a family’s ability to care for their children. Language or cultural barriers may make it difficult for some parents to identify services and carry out the necessary contacts. Providing information and connections to concrete supports can be a tremendous help to families under stress or in crisis.
6) Social and emotional competence of children
Just like learning to walk, talk, or read, children must also learn to identify and express emotions effectively. When a child has the right tools for healthy emotional expression, parents are better able to respond to his or her needs, which strengthens the parent-child relationship. Parents can help children learn to identify and properly communicate their feelings to others.
You can play a major role in helping parents explore and assess their child’s emotional and social development with some of the following strategies:
- Help children understand their emotions by first giving the feelings names and then encouraging them to talk about how they are feeling.
- Use pictures, books, and other visual elements to help the child understand his or her emotions.
- Give children opportunities to suggest different ways he or she can deal with feelings.
- Teach children the different methods for responding to feelings, conflicts, or problems such as taking deep breaths, stepping away from the situation to calm down, or asking an adult for help.
- Praise the child for healthy emotional expression.
History of Child Abuse Month (USA)
Increasing public awareness of the need to ensure the safety and welfare of children (1974) led to the passage of the first Federal child protection legislation, the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA). The U.S. Senate and House of Representatives resolved that the week of June 6-12, 1982, should be designated as the first National Child Abuse Prevention Week. In 1983, April was proclaimed the first National Child Abuse Prevention Month.
In 1989, the Blue Ribbon Campaign to Prevent Child Abuse began as a Virginia grandmother’s tribute to her grandson who died as a result of abuse. She tied a blue ribbon to the antenna of her car as a way to remember him and to alert her community to the tragedy of child abuse. The Blue Ribbon Campaign has since expanded across the country; many people wear blue ribbons each April in memory of those who have died as a result of child abuse and in support of efforts to prevent abuse.
When the U.S. Surgeon General named 2005 the Year of the Healthy Child, there was renewed commitment to make child abuse prevention a national priority. OCAN invited 26 national organizations to be national child abuse prevention partners so the message could reach a wider audience.
Notes: adapted from the US Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Children and Families
Preventing Child Maltreatment and Promoting Well-Being: A Network for Action 2012 Resource Guide or find additional resources on Information Gateway
National Alliance of Children’s Trust and Prevention Funds. (2011). Parent ambassadors: A parent’s guide to participation using the strengthening families approach. http://www.ctfalliance.org/images/pdfs/TN_ParentGuide.pdf (PDF – 1823 KB).
The Center on the Social and Emotional Foundations for Early Learning. (2010).Teaching your child to identify and express emotions. http://csefel.vanderbilt.edu/documents/teaching_emotions.pdf (PDF – 2774 KB).
ZERO TO THREE. Tips on nurturing your child’s social-emotional development.
You know you are an expat when…I had to meet up with someone, and I suggested meeting outside the Southwest Terminal at the Reno Airport. I had the whole city to pick for an excellent location, and the airport seemed to work best for me.
Check out this blog about EMPATHY:
Everybody needs somebody! This is why most expats spend a portion of their summer time around family and friends. They are re-connecting. When I need to meet up with a service provider in the community, I ask him to meet me at the one place in Reno I feel I know well. We met at the International Airport.
Model and mirror – If you look at a person’s face and read their emotions, it is easy to understand how mirroring works. If you are not sure how a person is feeling, try to make your face look like their face and check your inner emotions. How are you feeling? This is probably how the other person is feeling. Or at least it is a good start to understanding what they might be feeling. When you model empathy for your children, they learn so much. I still have a passion that our kids will be better in the world than we are. I try to model empathy every day.
Put yourself in their shoes. As the traveler with twins was struggling with their car seats, I remembered what it was like to travel with two children under the age of three. She didn’t seem to have enough hands.
Ask if you can help. I stopped my conversation with the service person I was meeting and walked over to ask the traveler if she needed help. She was trying to get the stroller to open up, she had one child in her arms and the other one was holding on to her knees. I started to lean towards the stroller to yank it open. Wham! She put the child into my arms and dealt with it herself. With one quick movement, she opened the stroller, put the child on the floor into it and then turned to me. The smile she gave me as she took her baby out of my arms was priceless. No other words were needed. She went on her way to check-in, and I returned to my conversation.
Treat others the way you want to be treated. I listened carefully to the service person and respected his time and expertise. I quickly made my USA commitment for services I knew nothing about since I have not lived in the USA for so long. I knew this representative knew a lot more than I would ever know about his product.
Hurtful or helpful. When the bus loaded with out of town guests pulled up right by me, I had to give directions as each person came off since they could not seem to see the various check-in counters. As you know, once you help one person you seem to be approachable and friendly, so more people will approach you. I needed my “Welcome to Reno” badge!
You feel better, and they feel better. They got where they needed to go, and I went home feeling good about my afternoon at the Reno Airport without traveling.
It was an afternoon of empathy.
I love this video and how they were able to capture “Empathy” so well. What has been a moment in your life that you can’t forget because someone was able to show you empathy? What did they do that touched you? Please put your story in the comment section. Thanks.
Simens – Family Tradition
What is cultural competence?
When many people talk about having cultural competence, they come up with some key things that showcase your competency. They are
- respect for difference
- practice curiosity, eager to learn
- willingness to accept there are many ways to view the world
- recognizing & rejecting own pre-existing beliefs about culture
- avoiding over-generalizing or labeling persons
Where do I fit in?
I have worked a lot with children who are adopted. They often look different from their family, but as a “whole” the family unit thinks alike. Many people can relate to being a foreigner, especially if they are travelers. As soon as you start weaving down the aisle of the airplane and hit foreign soil, you look different from the Host country nationalities, and you think differently from them. For many people, we tend to hang around people that are a lot like us. People that look alike and think alike are called “Mirrors” in the PolVan Cultural Identity Model.
I have recently repatriated to the USA. I am a “Hidden Immigrant.” I might look like most of the other women shopping in The Village Market, but I certainly think different from them. When I am looking at the fresh turkey breasts, I am checking the expiration date only because in some of the homes we have lived in abroad the frozen turkeys were often well passed their prime. One year, we were surprised to find a Thanksgiving turkey in May, but under closer inspection, it had been frozen and refrozen on the shelves in Balikpapan, and it was already five months past the expiration date. I am not thankful for ancient turkeys. At Village Market, they are only two days old or less.
What does it mean to belong, to have a home, to know where you’re from? “Neither Here Nor There” is a 35-minute documentary that explores cultural identity for people who have grown up in places other than their home culture, known as Third Culture Kids.
For more information, please visit the website:NeitherHereNorThere-TheFilm.
Here is a nice way to look at identity.What does your identity sound like?
I love this Cultural Competency Continuum
Attitudes and practices (as well as policies and structures in organizations) are destructive to a cultural group.
The capacity to respond effectively to the needs, interests, and preferences of culturally and linguistically diverse groups is lacking.
The predominant philosophy is one that views and treats all people as the same.
There is awareness of strengths and areas for growth to respond effectively to culturally and linguistically diverse populations.
Acceptance and respect for culture is consistently demonstrated in policies, structures, practices, and attitudes.
Culture is held in high esteem and used as a foundation to guide all endeavors
As I gear up for my 9,682-mile flight to attend the Families in Global Transition annual conference, I decided to look back at pivotal moments that my own family “knew” being global nomads would be O.K. What better way to share that than with memories of their past.
When should we move abroad?
Every family asks, “When is the best time to go abroad with kids?” My response has always been when you feel you are ready or want to. Remember the first thing you need to do. That is to get everyone in the family frequent flier cards. We missed out on some essential flights by waiting until our oldest child was two years old before getting her the first Frequent Flyer card.
First get your kids an FF mile card – global family needs
Often traveling with children is not the best but we all power through and get to our final landing location. Here is Jackie’s first exposure to her Frequent Flyer card. We were in Perth, Australia and often traveled to Denver International Airport to see her Grandma and extended family members. She was not that impressed.
The second questions parents often ask is “How do you tell your family that they will be moving!” This is also one of those times when the sooner you do it, the better just like the FF card!
You need to set the stage!
You need to build the drama and then let them know what their new adventure will be. We were in an ideal situation, our company had moved us back to the head office, and we were lucky enough to have Grandpa and Grandma live in that city. It was fun because the kids were four-years-old and one-year -old so they got a lot of fun Grandparent time. Then we got the invitation to move to Jakarta. Now the kids were five and one-half years old and two and one-half years old so we had to make sure that the kids would be excited to move so far away and start a new adventure.
Get them excited by what interests them!
I decided to show them books about the Indonesia and the neat places we might see. But the biggest hit was the books about packing and the massive trucks!
As parents, you have the right to focus on what makes the most sense to your family at that point in time. To have long discussions about missing Grandparents didn’t make sense since time and distance were strange concepts at this age. We needed to focus on what was going on right then. That was boxes and trucks for our family!
Focus on what your family needs in the here and now – global family needs
After the initial focus of moving, the next biggest hurdle is the actual flight. For many people, this can be a 4-hour flight from one part of the country to another, but for many of us, it was often several flights and some over 13 hours long. We all call these our ultra long-haul non-stop flights. According to the airlines, these flights are commercially operated with no scheduled intermediate stop of any kind, and a route length is over 7,500 miles!
Many of us, often have several flights and some of these flights are over 13 hours long. Ultra long-haul non-stop flights can be enjoyable if your child can eat and go to bed and treat it like a regular night of sleep. If they can not – it is an awful situation for everyone. There is no place to go, no place to have a meltdown and no way to escape until you have landed.
Now the longest non-stop scheduled airline flight is from Dallas/Fort Worth, USA, to Sydney, Australia. This flight is almost 17 hours! That would have been great when our kids were small, but it still meant we would have had a flight from Denver to get to Dallas and then a flight from Sydney to get to Perth!
Recently I have been flying Toronto to Hong Kong and these 15 hours flights are no longer fun. Some people say traveling with kids is never fun, but as a mom, I have to say I liked flying with my kids. I must also admit that sometimes we might not have done the traditional things families do on planes.
Yes, that is my two-year-old with a paintbrush on a plane! These were “paint with water books.” I know that now these books are hard to find. Thank goodness there are some still on Amazon. Two-year-olds can sit for an hour or so paint these books, and the clean up is not that much. Like most things – they change. We had the one-time use ones and loved them. Now they make ones called “water WOW ones.” The WOW ones dry and then you can do them over and over and over again.
Time changes everything.
I love to see global families. I know they are building a ton of special memories for their children. If you happen to run across Grant or Jackie in some airport, please ask them what was more enjoyable traveling when they could easily curl up in the airplane seat or now as they are over 5ft 10+ tall?
If you see me looking out the window of 22A looking sad, just smile and walk on. You will not want me to share the “extended” version of how hard it is to travel alone when you are used to traveling with children. You won’t want to hear about Jackie wearing big girl panties on the plane when she was two or Grant heading off to business class alone since “Mr. Simens” got upgraded. He was seven year old – leaving Jackie and I in economy class. Sometimes the empty nest issues hits you in the strangest places.
I am flying to Washington DC from Lombok, Indonesia where I just spend a wonderful week of rest and relaxation! What a perfect way to start a long trip. As we sat on the beach, the local ice cream man arrived on his motorcycle. The song instantly transported us back to Jakarta where we raised our kids for five years. The music brings a tear to my eye as I remember Grant running to the front door of our home singing, “I’ll be good, I’ll be good as I eat the ice cream.” We still don’t know the real words to this jingle, but we are aware of our family’s version.
Many families find that they are well prepared for relocating.
They have done all the research on the moving company, and some of have even provided packing experts to help them. In the hectic months leading up to a big move, most couples spend so much time considering the outward or tangible aspects of their relocation that they don’t take care to protect their relationships.
But what happens after the move is over?
Parents need to regroup and make sure they have their priorities right. Sometimes the hanging of pictures isn’t that necessary. Taking time to reconnect with each other will help the family unit remain healthy. All moves are stressful. Remember – you are moving the center of your life from one place to another! Always consider “Family First.”
Key points to help your family thrive
Working with families and young children, these are three key points that every parent needs to do when they are moving their family:
- Reassure toddlers, and even preschoolers, that they will be coming along with the family as they move. (I know you are laughing but…) A surprising number of young children see their family’s possessions being boxed up, sold, or thrown out, and they wonder if they will suffer the same fate.
- Put off redecorating your children’s new rooms for a few months unless they ask you to decorate. Using the old bedroom pillows and bedding is like taking a security blanket. It eases the transition to the many other new things they are facing.
- Pay attention to the ways the design of your new home influences how you spend time with your children. The increased privacy of a larger house can sometimes make it harder for children to adjust. The new home may not have the same type of central family gathering place, such as a combination kitchen and dining area, as the old one. You may not realize you’re not spending as much time together as a family as you used to.
Remember, to be honest
I believe it is always important, to be honest. Be honest with yourself when the transition is starting to make you feel stressed. Honest with your partner when you need help or support with something during your move and settling in period.
Being fair to your children is vital. When the kids are young, it was very important to not make false promises. Saying, “It will get better” might be a lie. Saying, “Don’t worry, you will see them again” might be a lie. Kids need to be able to trust their parents so be careful and do not set yourself up where your children will start to doubt you.
What to look for after your transition to a new location
Change in behavior is often the first clue that a child is undergoing something that is causing his or her stress. He/she might start avoiding the things he used to love. Or he/she might start taking risks or doing things that seem out of character for your child.
If a child ever asked to see the school counselor or ask for or you to help them by setting up an appointment, parents should make that a top priority. Even if the parent feels there is not a need. This sends the message that it is okay to seek support.
The most common problem parents have in a new location is not dealing with concerns as they come up. Parents often take the “let’s see if this will change” attitude and become passive in situations. Many times the parents would have handled the situation differently in their past community, but they are hesitant to intervene in the new situation. Parents need to trust their gut feelings. If a parent is hesitant in a situation about their child, it is possible that they are letting something become the new norm in their child’s life instead of stopping it quickly by a timely intervention.
Transitions = Change
Transitions might not be from a geography change, but even the change from middle school to high school can change a family. The change of going to pre-school will be a transition. As a family unit sometimes the transition will be very smooth for many people in the family. You can’t assume that it is going the best it can be unless you are willing to ask these hard questions, “Are you as happy as you want to be?” and “Do you have everything you need to be successful?” These are two key sentences that we need to ask ourselves to ensure as parents we can deal with the demands it takes in raising your family in this new location. Then take the time and ask your partner and each of your children the same questions. Listen to them and see how as a family unit you can all move forward.
Celebrate the uniqueness!
Each family needs to have a healthy family identity. This should be full of things the family likes to do and participate in. You might be the family that reads. You might be the family that supports the local orphanage. You might be the family that loves to watch sporting events. As a family, you need to have a strong identity. You need to create family rituals that you will have year after year regardless of where you live.
Many of my friends are International school teachers and they celebrate 100 days of school. I have put two things I hold dear to my heart. Kids and Emotions. Here are my favorite 100 emotions that we can help every child know and learn! You can download an easy tool to see all 100 basic emotions here.
If you are a parent raising your child abroad, it is important that you know about emotions but you also need to know about “Transition Education”
The first researchers we had on this subject were Unseem and Langford. They said we need to provide children with the knowledge and skills to successfully manage transitions while affirming and celebrating their unique experiences and backgrounds.
Most children are affected by a transition in some way during their lives.
If they do not move, it is likely that at some point a friends, relative, or classmate will move. The children left behind will also experience adjustments. Helping a child understand the cycles of a transition and being able to label how they are feeling helps them and others in their life.
History of Transition Education
Useem said in 1976 – She found children growing up outside their home country shared unique characteristics. She was concerned that few educators were aware of this.
Mary Langford in 1998 shared the same concern and conducted research among international schools. She asked – “What is it that educators understand about global nomads and what are international schools doing to accommodate their needs?”
This was the first study in the field of transition. – Educators thought international schools have to have a role in meeting the needs of these children. It logically follows that schools everywhere have a responsibility to meet the needs of their mobile population. Debra Rader in 1998 made a model of transition education.
I travel around the world giving presentations to educators, parent organizations and school administrators explaining to them the need to support the families as they relocate around the world. Here is an example of one of my talks.
The common experience of international mobility – for kids they can lose their sense of security, feel disoriented when their routine is changed and all that is familiar is taken away. It is important to balance past experiences and focusing on helping them adjust to the new place. As educators and parents, we must “see” and “know the child” and where they have been or their history. This affirms their sense of self and gives them a sense of security that will help them settle into the new place.
Moving back – Children often have certain expectations of “Home” and are disappointed when these expectations are not met. They think they are going to feel completely comfortable and have a sense of belonging – yet things have changed. Some kids even want time to stand still while they were gone…it does not. But most important is – many children moving to their passport country are not really moving back – but in fact, it might be the first time they are going to be living there. “Home” in this case, is actually their parent’s home. Their version of “home” is where they have been growing up.
The process of transition – remember parents and children respond differently to these stages and may move through them at different rates. The attitudes of parents are often reflected in the attitudes of their children.
Problem-solving skills –children who move are adjusting to a wide range of new circumstances and well-developed life skills are a tremendous asset.
Friendships and relationships – leaving and making friends can be the greatest concern for both adults and children who move.
Personal and cultural identity – easily seen, words, behavior, food we eat, clothes, festivals we celebrate – these things make up our culture. Children are influenced by the cultures of babysitters, teachers, friends, neighbors and other people who are significant in their lives.
My favorite books that every school counselor and global parent need to read.
These would be perfect valentine day gift for your international school teacher, counselor or parent.
Don’t forget my favorite valentine day book for expats written by my son when he was 11 years old living in Lagos, Nigeria.
A friend made this for me and I am still laughing. Hope you have a wonderful celebration with those that you love.