Page 83 - FSJ June 2012

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J U N E 2 0 1 2 / F O R E I G N S E R V I C E J O U R N A L
t one time or another, most Foreign Service parents ask them-
selves the same questions: What am I doing to my kid? Is this
globally nomadic lifestyle a goode thing or a bad thing? There
are no right or wrong answers to these questions;
but there are ways to protect and promote the
emotional well-being and resilience of internation-
ally mobile children.
Let's begin by quickly examining some of the
major characteristics of a TCK. As first laid out in
the book Third Culture Kids: Growing Up Among
Worlds by David C. Pollock and Ruth Van Reken,
most TCKs grow up to be resilient, flexible, adapt-
able and open to other cultures and ways of think-
ing as a result of their experiences.
They usually love travel, adventure and diver-
sity. Living abroad usually leads to intellectual
curiosity about how the world is interconnected.
Many of these kids also grow up to be multilingual, and have a life-
long interest in all things international.
However, TCKs can also be rootless and restless, knowing that
home can be everywhere but may not be anywhere in particular. They
often deal with problems in their lives by moving on instead of resolv-
ing them; and they often wonder where they are really from and where
they fit in, leading to questions about identity.
Frequent moves mean that kids must also deal with what Van
Reken calls “the chronic cycle of separation” from
people and things they love — in other words,
repeated loss and a sense of grief are inevitable.
Based on my own experience with kids and the
conversations I have had with other experts on
global mobility and child and adolescent psychol-
ogy, the emotional well-being and resilience of
TCKs are based on relationships — positive, nur-
turing relationships with families, and with peers,
and at school.
This is excerpted from an article by Rebecca
Grappo, a certified educational planner and the
founder of RNG International Educational Con-
sultants who works with Third Culture Kids
around the world and is a frequent presenter on the topic of global
mobility and its impact on children. Married to a career Foreign
Service officer, she has raised their three children internationally. The
article was published in the December 2011 Foreign Service Journal
and can be accessed online at
The emotional well-
being and resilience
of TCKs are based
on relationships.
2011 FSJ S
Promoting Your Child’s Emotional Health