Living Abroad with children brings challenges, but also an opportunity to expand their experience and build their confidence, which can live with them for the rest of their lives.
The decision to move to a new country will disrupt the lives of children at any stage of growing up. You will need to help them adapt to their new environment and immerse themselves in the new culture to gain the best from the experience. Particularly in countries where they do not use your own language you will find that you naturally migrate towards new friends from your home country, but you should also have the opportunity to benefit from living in a very different world. It can lead to a much better understanding of their own culture as they begin to see it from the perspective of others adding to their own views of their home.
One of your first and most important tasks will be to help your children to settle in. You may be in a hotel or serviced prior to moving in to your longer term accommodation and it can be difficult to find the time to spend with the family as the main breadwinner takes up the challenges of their new role, but you can still take meals and get to bed at their normal time. Alongside getting them to explore and become excited by their new home, it is important that you establish a routine as quickly as possible and help them feel comfortable and safe in their new home. It should be remembered that the failure of accompanying partners and family to settle in is the biggest cause of assignee failure for expats and so it is important for the new employer as well as the family.
Successfully setting in to a new environment leads to a very satisfying new lifestyle, but it is not successful for everyone and, where it fails, an unhappy return home with potential damage to careers and the confidence of the repatriating family results. Specialists can help to identify issues you are likely to face so that you can prepare for them and avoid such failure.
Expat Groups and Clubs
Expat Groups, online forums and colleagues can provide useful help, advice and support and help to identify available sports and leisure club, mother and baby groups, crèches, playgroups and nurseries and expat groups, which can be very good ways of meeting other families, as will be the school gate (see Education for options for schools and the Destination guides, which give details of available schooling options).
Children will very quickly make new friends and it is this that will help them to feel at home. If you arrive before school starts it will be essential to find ways to meet other children of the same age and interact with them. This will also help them to settle in to their new school when term begins.
Once you have settled in you will begin to enjoy the benefits of your new lifestyle. It will vary according to the location, but you should take advantage of all that the new home has to offer. This may include local attractions such as sports clubs, regional restaurants, cultural experiences and entertainment and travel in the region. Every expat eventually returns with tales of the lifestyle they enjoyed.
Third Culture Kids
Having lived as the child of an expat will ensure that your children have that experience to look back on. Studies show that there are many advantages that are gained from the experience. ‘Third Culture Kids’ is a term created in the 1950s to describe them. TCKs are more adaptable, confident, tend to do better academically and are well-suited to benefiting from an ever more global economy and world.
Follow this link to read more about Third Culture Kids.