Wednesday, October 22, 2014

My Insecure Third Culture Kids

I think all of the parents of third culture kids (sometimes called missionary kids) periodically question their decision to live the lifestyle they do. Most of the time I think it will be beneficial for my kids to grow up overseas- more aware of other cultures, people, and places. Less materialistic and worldly I hope. A lot of grown third culture kids I have met attest to this too.

Then there are other days, days where I wonder what we are doing to our children. Right now we are on furlough. And as expected, furlough is HARD on kids who are one and three. Yes our kids are loving quality time with grandparents and aunts and uncles they don't get to see often. But in between all the fun moments, they seem to be the most insecure versions of themselves I have ever seen. Our kids who used to go to sleep happily on their own, now both require us to lay in their room with them until they are sound asleep. And if they awake in the middle of the night, mommy or daddy needs to be there to help them back to sleep. Oi, this makes for some tired parents.

Mostly I feel like I have no moments to myself ever on this trip. During the day even when my kids are in the best of moods they insist that I be either right by their side or holding them (usually Hailey). In Chiang Mai they have both been known to play happily on their own (or even together) without direct adult interaction the entire time. Here, not at all. Common Colby phrases on this trip "Mommy I need someone to keep an eye on me." - 55 times a day, usually when I try to go to the bathroom, prepare a meal or perform other necessary tasks
"Mommy I want you to be with me."
"Mommy please sit with me."

Every second of the day....even when I leave the area he is playing for a mere moment to get a drink or go to the bathroom.

So what is it about this lifestyle and furlough specifically that is hard on kids? Well whenever you read the parenting books about kids that aren't sleeping well or behaving well, one thing that is stressed is "consistency and routine". Ah-ha! Consistency and routine are the keys to happy sleeping kids! Well those two things are downright impossible on a furlough. They only thing that seems to be consistent is that there is NO consistency from one day to the next. We are hopeful that starting preschool will help Colby feel a slight sense of stability as it will at least be 4 days a week of being the same place for a few hours in the afternoon.

It's possible preschool could have the opposite impact, but hopefully not. Today was Colby's first day. It's only half day preschool 4 days a week but it is a good stepping stone to the full day preschool we have him signed up for 3 days a week when he gets back to Chiang Mai.

As we walked away after settling him in and dropping him off,  I sort of felt like the "Hallelujah! Hallelujah!" chorus should be playing or something, I did hear it in my head.

It is only 12 hours a week total. But I think those 12 hours are going to be great for both Colby and Mommy.

That's all for now.