For any person, raising kids is probably the biggest challenge they’ll ever face in their lives. When you raise kids in a foreign culture, the challenge grows multifold. Expats find themselves constantly battling with challenging situations while raising their kids. Your kids will feel rootless; they may feel that they don’t belong anywhere. They’ll feel removed from the activities in their home country, while feeling unable, or perhaps unwilling, to participate in a different culture. If you’re an expat raising your kid in a foreign culture, these tips might help you cope better.

1.        Your kids might be missing their friends and are, in all likelihood, rebelling against living elsewhere. Don’t push them to make friends, as though you’re trying to make up for their loss. Let them know that you left your friends, coworkers and jobs behind as well. When they see that you’re in the same situation as them, they’ll come around.

2.        Remember your kids will be struggling with the definition of home. Home is an emotional location that they cannot find on a map. Help them understand home is where the family is, and that together, you will build a home. Give them lots of affection; listen to their problems and rants. Don’t be impatient with them, even though you might feel like it. They need to let out steam before starting to accept the reality.

3.        Your kids need you more after relocation. If both you and your partner have to work, you should try to be home during evenings and weekends at the very least.

4.        Remember your kids miss their friends, regular haunts, the home country culture and food. Try to retain your home country’s culture, food and cultural hobbies in your new home. If you always baked gingerbread cookies for Christmas, don’t change it to baking regular cookies now. More than ever, your kids need a sense of unchanging normalcy in their lives.

5.        Your kids might withdraw into themselves, or obsess with the TV or computer in an attempt to cope. Restrict both TV and computer use and draw them into mainstream family activities. Take them out exploring, shopping and studying the new culture. Make it look like a grand adventure.

6.        Communicate to them a lot; let them understand that you had no choice but to move. Let them also understand that this is a great opportunity for all of you to add a little adventure to your lives. Make them see everything as a new adventure, a new game and they’ll cope better.

7.        Be honest; lies and half-divulged truths will alienate your kids from you. Be especially careful if they’re preteens and teens. You don’t want to spoil your credibility. Give them the facts as they are and ask for their help to make the relocation work.

8.        Nourish your marriage; remember that any tension in your marriage will impact your kids more now than ever, since they have to depend solely on you. Until such time as your kids are ready to build their own lives in a foreign country, you’ll be at the center of their lives and don’t forget it.

9.        If you’re moving from a western nation to an eastern country, or vice versa, the cultural shock will be high on your entire family. The best way to handle this is to study cultural differences along with your kids. Let your kids understand that while you need to respect the cultural differences, there’s no need to emulate the local culture. However, respect for the local culture, customs and social etiquette must be observed.

10.     Help kids stay in touch with their friends through post, email and chat. Allow each child a certain face time via webcam so that they stay updated on what’s happening in their friends’ lives. Also make sure that your kids share what’s happening with them as well! When your kids’ friends learn that your kids are having the time of their lives, their expressed envy will go a long way to soothe your kids’ ruffled feathers!

11.     Allow your kids to solve their own problems. Don’t feel oversensitive about their adjustment issues just because you’ve taken them out of their comfort zones. The life skills they build by tackling issues in a different culture will help them become stronger.

12.     Don’t ever transfer your own fears and insecurities to your children. If you’re afraid that things won’t work out, or what might happen if you lose your job, don’t let your kids know about it.

Marina is a freelance writer and enjoys writing about specialty products like artificial plants, indoor fountains and a lot more.

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