Saturday, March 13, 2010

Raising a TCK

In our household, we have a very special person- our daughter Elisabeth.  She moved with us to China last summer and has handled the move with a grace and maturity that is beautiful to see.

Elisabeth is a TCK- a third culture kid.  Basically, a third culture kid is someone living outside of their passport culture.  Their identity is not necessarily with their own country or the country where they live.  They form a unique identity as a Third Culture Kid, with a unique skill and gift set.  Being a TCK also can have many challenges.
See this link for more information on TCK's.

Elisabeth spent the ages of two until six in a Korean environment.  She went to Korean Sunday School and was loved and spoiled by the community there.  What she learned in that environment was love.

She can't read but it doesn't matter.  She is so is Pikachu!

She spent the next part of her life in a Chinese environment and then in an international environment (still in the US).  In 2007 we decided to take a trip to China.
There we marched her around Beijing and took her up to an English camp in Inner Mongolia.

Exhausted at the Great Hall            Dad is always happy to give      New friends made at the camp from
of the People.                                 a history lecture.                       Tianjin International School.

When we returned to the US, we began to consider seriously the possibility of moving to China.  I didn't believe it was the right thing at the time, but slowly God began to work in my heart.  My primary concern was whether it was the right thing for Elisabeth- would she thrive?  Would school work for her?  Would she resent us later for taking here away from a "normal" American life?
I considered friends who had raised their kids successfully overseas- places like Jordan, Germany, Papua New Guinea.  I thought about the international school kids we had met at the camp who were living in China and thriving.  I contacted a friend who was raising her kids in Papua New Guinea - they had moved as slightly older kids.  Her advice- Go for it.
So we did.

In the summer of 2008, we came back to China.  We visited a few cities to consider where we wanted to live.

Elisabeth met kids that she would be going to school with.  The apartment where she is playing hockey is actually where we now live.  She began to really see that it was possible to live here..and so did I.

So we moved here in the summer of 2009.  Has it always been easy?  No.  Has it been worth it?  Yes.

Paul and I were given a gift a few years ago when we were at a retreat in SW Missouri.  It was the gift of hearing a speaker talk about raising kids.  He actually was a Chinese man who had lived in the US and raised his family there.
While he was speaking, he told the story of his teen son.  One night they were playing pool.  He could tell that his son had something to talk about but wasn't quite ready.  So they kept playing. And playing.  And playing.  Finally, after midnight, the son started talking.
When we heard this story, Elisabeth was about 7 or 8.  But it made a huge impact on us, and that's why we consider it a gift.  Creating an environment where your kids can talk, really talk makes such a big difference.  We have tried to make that true in our family.  There is no taboo subject except for meanness about other people or gossip.  I truly believe that has been part of Elisabeth's success here.  She was and is allowed to say whatever she wanted about the move (and she had a lot to say as the two year proces of getting here went on!).  She (and all of us) are allowed to be sad-we miss our family, our friends, our pets.  We miss driving and other things about living in America.

We have two and a half years left with this terrific kid.  My friend who is married to a Bolivian man says that I only think that because I am a "Gringa."  Hispanic and other cultures don't think that way.  But it's true, I am a Gringa and I do think that way!  I hope the two and a half years is rich and full of memories.  We are so thankful for the daughter that we have.


Ti'el said...

She's a totally rockin' kid. I love her too. *nod*

mmichele said...

Beautiful post and beautiful daughter. thanks for sharing with us!

Pam Terrell said...

How special! We had similar worries when we moved to Wisconsin. Not quite the same, but still a very different culture, far away from family, etc. A wise missionary friend reminded us that "When God calls you He will call your children too." I have found that to be true. Blessings to you all!

Jan said...

sweet story. And this is just one of many chapters. The blessings of having a TCK daughter (or son) continue even after he or she has left the field. Our TCK children have been forever impacted and will continue to make a difference in the world for Christ wherever they go.

Qene' said...

I'm so glad to hear that she has adjusted well. She is a beautiful girl inside and out - and very wise for her age. We keep you all in our hearts. Q.'

Alida said...

I love TCK's. Every now and then Spencer will be trying to express a thought and an English word escapes him... so I remind him he can say it in Russian and I will understand and translate.

So glad to hear that your daughter is doing so well. Cherish these next few years. They will just fly by!!

bevLY said...

i must say that i agree -- you DO have a wonderful daughter who is growing up into such a godly woman! :) i am learning a lot from you and paul about parenting! :) thanks for sharing.

Sarah@EmergingMummy said...

I echo Tez. She is indeed well loved by so many of us. You and Paul should be so proud of her. (And P.S. When did she get so grown up! So beautiful!!!)