Tuesday, April 07, 2009

What We've Been Reading

A friend loaned me the book Raising Global Nomads: Parenting Abroad in an On-Demand World by Robin Pascoe when she learned that we expect to live abroad for a few years still.  I dropped L-- at a friend's birthday party last weekend and brought the book to a Starbucks, where I began to read.  The first few chapters brought tears to my eyes, as I began to realize how typical my experience and my feelings are for mothers raising their children abroad.

The author defines "Global Nomads" as "anyone who has ever lived abroad before adulthood because of a parent's occupational choice."  She describes the emotions surrounding the sudden moves of expatriates, the cycle of culture shock, and the challenge of negotiating a work-life balance.

Reading this book, I began to realize that although my fears are real and entirely normal of people in my situation (fears of bad schools, unsanitary food, and unsafe medical care, to begin), they are also being overcome by people in my situation every day.  The next location will be no more (or less) difficult than this one.  The community will be every bit as strong as supportive, and likely my children will thrive.

One piece of information I did find quite interesting was the author's opinion on labeling.  She and her experts find value in labeling these children as Global Nomads, or Third Culture Kids.  The labels help children to realize that they fall into a category, and that their experiences, their emotions before and after moves, their fear of repatriation, and their general homelessness are entirely normal.  She believes that the best adjusted global nomads are those who have been familiar with the term for a long time.  Dave and I discussed this, and place it in the same category as the adoption.  At this point, we do not plan to involve Mei Mei in adoption support groups because we do not wish to identify her specifically as an adopted child.  We plan to raise her as we will raise our other children - as our child, who happens to be adopted.  We feel that the same attitude will serve our global nomads well.  We will raise them as our children - children with good brains, weekly chores, and a strong sense of family.  But as members of this family, they will be global nomads and the knowledge of that category may well do them good.

For anyone looking for insight into the roller coaster of emotions and challenges behind raising children abroad, this book is a good read.

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