Moving. It’s intriguing. But it isn’t painless either. Being an expat can either be an ecstatic adventure to embark on for a lifetime, or a temporary shift to building some foundation for the future of your children or even for yourself. Yet, even when the journey does benefit a family greatly, it can affect the feelings and hopes that dwell within a child’s mind.
Take it from me, I’m only a 16 year old girl, born in South Africa, but I’ve moved to 4 different countries, 5 different cities, been to 7 different schools, and been to 8 different churches in my lifetime; and the beginning of my crazy, young expat life started when I was only 6. I feel as though I have travelled and moved to places than my parents or grandparents ever have in their entire lives!
Yes, the journey has been an incredible one and I wouldn’t trade my life for any other, I mean, my family has grown as close as the family you see in My Big Fat Greek Wedding throughout the years of being expats. I’m certain that it’s because all we do have, in terms of blood relation, is each other. Plus, I’ve met so many people that my appreciation for others and other people’s feelings is the strongest trait I’ll ever live with, I’ve seen all sorts of pain, all kinds of conflicts, and I’ve learned how to tolerate them within my own life. This is, indeed, one of the biggest blessings I have received in being an expat.
However, it has not been easy to get to where I am as an expat today… the struggles and pain I’ve been through were some of the hardest things any teenager can endure, I wouldn’t have been able to get through them without the people I love in my life. Still, I’ll have to confess, most times it felt like my parents never understood the pain I went through, and sometimes they really didn’t because they didn’t have to move in their childhood like I have been, and it’s a hard situation to be in when parents don’t understand. Us kids may not confess it, but we can’t get through the sorrow of saying goodbye to the friends we adore or the home we have grown a compassion for over a period of time. And trust me, the same will go for your child/children when the time’s come that the start a new life has to begin in a new country, or even a fresh start in a new school.
Therefore, off of my own experience, I will be answering the following:
- How do I make a new transition easier for my child?
- How do I help deal with the fear of bullying or the situation of bullying for my child?
- How can I make sure my child feels ‘at home’ in a new place with unfamiliar surroundings?
- How do I teach my child the beauty of new beginnings?