Lifelong Effects on Children Raised Abroad
The U.S. Foreign Service (diplomatic corps) recognizes that the children of personnel stationed overseas have special needs. In fact, the Foreign Service Youth Foundation was established to serve these “homeless” youth. (I recommend their website.) Studies show that children who spend significant time in foreign lands and cultures are affected for years thereafter.
One phenonemon with such children is that they find that their globe-trotting experiences mean little to their homebound peers. My son once boasted that he had climbed into the burial chamber in the great pyramid at Giza in Egypt. To this, his little friend said, “So, my dad drove all the way across Alberta once.” When they discover that their foreign experience can’t be shared with their peers, and that their time out of the country has left them unfamiliar with the vitally-important popular icons of the day, they either play catch-up, to fit in, or revert to the more familiar foreign way of doing things. Either way, they go through some uncomfortable times. (Sorry for the gross simplification of the matter. There are many points between the two responses.)
With my sons, they showed little interest in team sports after our return to the U.S., either as participants or spectators. They show greater tolerance of cultural symbols and pratices that aren’t their own. One of my sons was the only “white kid” in his high school’s Asian Students Association. And as they mature, this expanded world view begins to pay off, as they have broader visions of what they might do with their educations.
If you or your children are facing issues concerning life overseas, let’s talk.