Preparing My Kids for a Cross-Cultural Move {India Werner}

On Wednesdays, Lois and I usually highlight some aspect of motherhood, whether here on the blog or just on our social media pages. Today it is my turn to talk about motherhood, and I am just going to share a little bit about right where I am at.

Our family is currently preparing to move back to India. We have been in the States since August as we worked on visas. It is very exciting to be finally at the point where we have visas and tickets in hand! However, I can see that this cross-cultural life we live is not always easy for the kids (or adults, for that matter).

Since we became parents, we have made seven trips to India, on top of much travel within the US, two trips to Europe, and a trip to Thailand. We are constantly saying hello and goodbye to friends and family around the world. Life can certainly be an emotional rollercoaster for third-culture kids.

“Oh, they’ll be fine! Kids are resilient!” I have heard people say this many times. Yes, kids ARE amazing, but perhaps we depend on their resilience a little too much. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines resilient as “a: capable of withstanding shock without permanent deformation or rupture b : tending to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change.”

Children are not immune to culture shock, nor are they untouched by the grief of leaving family and friends behind and missing out on what “normal” kids get to do. As a parent, I desire to help them through these seasons of life, rather than dismiss the emotions that they may be struggling with. Last summer, I read an eye-opening book called “Raising Up a Generation of Healthy Third Culture Kids” by Lauren Wells. This book captivated me because I grew up as third-culture kid, too. It gave me ideas for helping my kids through this unique life that we live and helped me understand more about myself. I highly recommend reading it if your family lives abroad.

As our departure date draws nearer, I am trying to talk about the move with my children every day. Here are some of the questions I have been asking them:

“How do you feel about going back to India?”

“Are you excited about going on an airplane again?”

“Are you going to miss everyone here?”

I want them to be unafraid to share their feelings about this move with me. It was not their idea or their decision to move to – literally – the other side of the world, and I would be foolish to expect them to always and only be thrilled about it every second of the day. My children are still young, but their struggles with our moving about have manifested already at different times and in different ways. I didn’t recognize their behavior for what it was at first, and in hindsight, I could have extended more grace to them in certain situations. We are learning together. If I return frustration for frustration, what sort of example am I?

As you read this you may be wondering if we allow them to act how they want and excuse poor behavior because they are having a tough time coping. The answer is no. There are understood consequences for wrong behavior. We address sinful actions, and endeavor to gently guide them to an appropriate alternative. For example, when they are angry and lose control, we turn to Scriptures about handling our anger. We encourage them to lean on the Lord and ask Him for help. The key is talking and praying through the hurdles they face.

While I desperately hope and pray for my children to love living in India, I don’t want to negate or suppress their feelings. In this preparatory stage, we will just talk. I’ll be excited when they are excited, and I’ll be sad with them when they are sad.

My first ministry is my family. The Lord called me to serve Him by serving them, and what a privilege that is! These years of having little ones are flying by. The other day I realized that in less than ten years, all four of our kids will be teenagers, and our oldest will be an adult! These are the years I pour myself into them while they are still with me. <3 – India

Comments · 2

  1. I really appreciate this better understanding of what missionaries face when traveling back and forth. It is not so romantic as it may seem to some of us.
    Love you

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