Friday, November 9, 2012

Where the heart is

We've been parents for a whole year now - it's been a year of awesomeness.  Most of that year has been spent living abroad, in 2 countries no less.  As we navigate expat living, we are making a conscious effort to make sure we have strong roots in family, traditions, and an idea about what "home" means.  Yes, our daughter is only one, and yes, she won't remember this early stuff, but we are setting the tone for what living overseas looks like for our family.

How are we doing this?  It's definitely a work in progress but here's what we've got so far:

1.  Spend time in the Portland area, what we consider our "home" - when we talk about home, we want Tegan to have connections there.  It may not be what she considers home, but she'll know what we're talking about.
Oregon zoo

2. Have consistent traditions - it's easy to have events and celebrations be different each year when you are abroad, we're making an effort to set things in place that can be the same each year.
Birthdays, St. Patrick's Day, Sunday morning breakfast - all important traditions

3.  Have relationships with extended family - we skype a lot with family, and we're creating a book this Christmas break with everyone's picture in it so while we are in Nepal Tegan can look through it.  I also like the idea of reading night time books over skype as well as recording people reading books aloud to play when we can't skype.
Skyping with her uncle

4.  Have things in our home that are the same no matter where we go - pictures, decorations, special books and toys

5.  Story-telling - we want Tegan to know about the places she's lived, where we are from, who has been a part of her life.  We have books from the countries, pictures, our blog - all to record memories of her life experience and we will tell her stories of the parts of her life she doesn't remember.

6.  Read about and discuss with other families Third Culture Kid issues - I deal with this a lot in my job as a school counselor but of course things are always different when it's your own family.

These things will inevitably be adapted and change as Tegan grows up, but isn't that really what living abroad is all about?  Learning.  Being flexible.  Change.  But within that constant state of flux, we want everyone in our family to feel grounded, both in tangible and intangible ways.

If other families have recommendations about how they do this we would love to hear them!

1 comment:

  1. We do many of the same things. Our daughter is now 3 and identifies with having two homes, rituals stay the same wherever we are, Skype is fabulous, etc. We do have small books, like grandmas use for 'brag books' for her to have pictures of 'people who love you' (as we refer to them). Often we try to incorporate pictures of her with them. We also have lots of pictures on the fridge. She likes to take the magnet frames and take them around the house with her. Maybe one day our two TCK will meet! :)