Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Reevaluating the Whole Parenting Thing

After all these years of living overseas, I still find myself in the role of learner and student, never the expert.  I'm not an expert on anything, but especially not in this whole business of raising kids on the mission field.  If I ever come across as a know-it-all, just because I've done it for so long, well - I'm not.  

Most often I feel like Sgt. Schultz on Hogan's Heroes:  "I say nothing.... I know nothing!"

On Sunday while the more serious football enthusiasts were watching the Super Bowl, I was enjoying a lovely coffee klatsch with a sociable group of lesser football fans.  The conversation flew from one topic to another as is typical among my friends.  At one juncture, the subject matter centered on cross-cultural child-rearing. Mostly I just listened.

Just as we all have our own ways of coping, surviving, and thriving on the field, either by hunkering down or blending in, or any other variety of ways mentioned in a recent blog post by Rachel Pieh titled, 3 Types of Expatriates, we also have our own personal parenting styles and methods of raising children on the field. 

Some will attempt to thoroughly immerse their children in the culture, sending them to the local schools in the local language.  Some will keep their kids primarily in the expat community and English speaking schools, with the emphasis on preparing them for life and university in the U.S. someday.  Some will keep their kids at home, teaching them in English with the focus on joining in ministry opportunities when they arise.  Others will choose a combination of the above.

It’s all well and good.  Each couple must decide for themselves which approach is the best for their particular situation and their individual children.  There is no one right answer for every missionary family.  The trouble comes when we start looking at each other and passing judgment on others’ decisions that conflict with our own.  Thankfully I live in a community with a healthy amount of tension that results from differing opinions and experiences, minus any overt criticism.
Once again I refrain from offering the one-size-fits-all solution.  I’ll just emphasize that it’s a tough decision that needs to be re-evaluated regularly.  Just because one approach worked for a while does not mean we can't change it later.  Whatever you choose may leave you with doubts and regrets.  How’s that for a depressing thought? All we can do is pray, seek godly wisdom, and agree with our husbands on the right path for our unique families.
For me, I am in a season of reevaluating whether it’s time to drag my three teens out of their comfortable little bubble more frequently, take more forays into Indian villages, and force them to take more cross-cultural risks.  

How about you?  Where does your family fit in the cross-cultural continuum?  Are you happy with your decisions?  Ready for a change?  Do tell.  And do any of you dare to call yourself an expert on raising a family on the field?  I'm just curious.

The good news is that most of the time, third culture kids turn out just fine.  I cling to that hope.

IRL:  Still struggling with the desire to be an “expert” in this whole raising kids overseas, while admitting I am really just learning it all with you.


  1. I certainly don't consider myself an expert. We do homeschooling, but do try to give the kids opportunities to get out of the foreign bubble. They both function well in Turkish and can get along.

    And I do agonize sometimes about what on earth we're doing raising them here! We must be on the same wavelength. I just wrote a post about my kids!

  2. I just linked to this post from Facebook.

    There's no way that I would consider us experts, but we are very happy with what we've chosen for our family. We're kind of a mix of some of what you described. We've chosen to have the local language be our family language, and many people think that we are crazy for doing that. In a lot of ways, we've gone the total immersion route. But then, we also homeschool. So, it's an odd mix. But like I said, so far, it's perfect for our family.

  3. maybe instead of labeling ourselves experts or not in this realm of raising tcks, we should recognize that God has placed us as the ones in charge for our family and expects us, each one, to seek Him and His expertise in regards to our kids? why do we have this tendency to want to offer our solutions to everyone else (I'm as bad as the next person about that)???

    we've done a bit of everything as well, depending on the child, the circumstances, the money, our family situation, etc. especially our older 4, they are fluent, have many local friends, love many parts of this culture, feel more at home here than anywhere else and transition between several worlds very easily and fluidly. they are the pretty typical MK chameleons. the younger half of our family is definitely more comfortable in the expat world although they are happy to play with local friends. they understand, but don't speak the language... they never had the opportunity to go to a french language school. but their unique needs have also been different.

    the past few years, however, we've definitely pulled into the expat misso bubble more - part of that has been teens getting ready to transition to life after school, life back in the states; part has also been to some very difficult situations with our sending organization and the security realities in this part of the world, at present.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...