Third Culture Kids (TCKs), meaning expat children who grow up outside of their parents' culture, and on the fringes of the culture of their 'host' country, have a culture that is shared between other global nomads.
As we hurtle towards the holidays once again the bags are packed and the itinerary carved in stone for our annual pilgrimage back to the UK. We arrive in Cardiff, with a first stop exhausted from the flight at my mothers, followed by tea at the in laws and then an evening stop off with my sister in law! in between taking in Folly Farm and Neyland Marina, a train journey, a fish and chips supper on a cold, blustery beach, the mini zoo, and a what ever family functions are lined up.It sounds more stressful than relaxing. I know my children would be just as happy running around the closest park, rather than this whirlwind tour of annual experiences. It's like an total immersion in British childhood - ten years of memories crammed into ten hectic days.
I have this obligation to give them roots in a culture that is theirs, but that they are strangers to My daughter left the Uk when she was only 8 months old and my son when he was just 3 years. So they have no sense of cultural identity, they know who they are and where they are from because even after eight years of living in the UAE we still refer to Wales as home.
With the hectic itinerary looming and the kids asking if they can just go on holiday like their friends I am starting to wonder if this is the sensible route to holiday planning. Knowing that I will also complete one years worth of social visits and repairs to my parents house in less than four weeks I return from this annual pilgrimage needing a real break!
Do our children really need crash courses in the cultures of our motherlands? Surely it is enough that I sit back and relax, taking on board that my children are part of the global expat community and many of their friends are TCKs. Even with different backgrounds, as expat brats they all have something in common. It can be confusing, but it's silly to try to squeeze children in to a cultural mold that is foreign to them. If they have grown up here, they're from the Third Culture. We're just being fake if we don't teach them about themselves.
I am embarrassed to say that my children don't even sound Welsh" let alone British, they all say they want to go home, but for the youngest this is because it snows in the UK and she has never seen snow, for the eldest it because he wants to spend more time with his cousin and apparently doesn't like the sun (although this is probably only a passing phase).
I believe they will find their identity when they have their own families and where ever they live will become their home. I guess my final thoughts are if I teach them love, compassion, understanding and how to believe in themselves their culture will be about being true to themselves and not to the country that they were born in.