If you could rewind back one year, what advice would you give to your third culture child?

The head of school started the first yearly meeting with this question. If you haven’t thought about it, I would like to suggest you do before reading what I am going to write. Better yet, get a paper and write it down. Thoughts can fly away, but whatever you write will be there to be remembered.

It is amazing to see how much knowledge, life knowledge, we have gained through this last and somewhat challenging year. Look at the rear mirror, what do you see?

I gave this question a good thought myself and started reading the amazing learning points the other parents were sharing. Almost immediately the sense of community and power has grown in the virtual room we were. This conversation fired me up so much that I have decided to share it with you here summarized in 13 points.

There is something amazing that happens when we share our histories, we allow them – the histories – to grow and we allow other people’s histories to grow at the same time. 

My family and I moved countries again last Summer, yes, in the middle of a world pandemic, and one of the things that my children missed the most was the presencial school. Not only for the academics, but also – and more importantly – for their social lives. Suddenly we all had to learn how to arrive in a new country and school without meeting anyone face to face. I can tell you that it was challenging, but I am sure you already know that.

From one day to the other the role that school plays in the lives of cross cultural children is more clear to all of us. This is a space where they find their equals, where peers speak their language and where they feel comfortable being themselves. And these are just the most important points when you are arriving somewhere, or living somewhere new for you!

If I could go back one year in my life I would remind my child to live fully every day, to play with their friends, to do and be their best. To not wait until tomorrow (or the right circumstance) to talk to that kid sitting in the corner of the room or to approach the boy that you feel attracted to. We have no idea what might happen tomorrow. We always knew that, but now that we have experienced it is easier to relate to this truth.

Once my children have asked me what I meant every time I told them to stay open and I found myself giving them a long lecture on flexibility and life opportunities. I have to say it was really a long one, as openness is one of my main values and I got all excited talking about it. My son was the one that ended the conversation with one simple phrase: Do you mean that we should be curious? Yes! That’s it. Exercise your curiosity and be brave enough to ask your questions.

Following this line of thought, I avoid telling them to be grateful (my vocabulary). Instead, I have added to my vocabulary a request to them: Say thank you to a teacher. Today. When they feel it, if they mean it. The objective is not to get your child to repeat whatever you say, but to exercise and feel gratitude as one of the main tools for happiness. 

Do something you love every day. A habit that will help you to keep your positivity in check. Remember, not tomorrow, not maybe next week, every day.

As we are talking about things you love, how about those you might love and have never tried? Let’s dare a little bit? Let’s stimulate our children to dare and have the courage to be vulnerable, to be in vulnerable situations.

Do you remember one of the first lessons we learn at the playground? Sharing is caring. If I could talk to my children one year ago I would remind them that this must as a child do not grow old. I would repeat over and over how much we gain when we share. How happy one feels when the communion happens. How much value we receive in our lives when we share what we have.

I still remember when I used to surf and the lessons I learned with this sport. And one of these lessons is a good reminder for our children: do not fight the waves, learn to go with it. When we are in the sea surfing, there is no other option. If you try to fight it, you get hurt and do not have fun. Learning to let go of control, of what should be and going with the flow is an amazing feeling and one I would love my children to experience and be experts on.

That said, remember who you are, your likes, your truth. Stop to check how you are feeling and be respectful towards yourself. If you do it first, others will learn that you are important, that your feelings matter. At the same time, respecting the feelings of others is equally important. Exercise empathy, put yourself in other people’s shoes. Respect, respect and respect everyone’s feelings.

Does it all seem too challenging for you? Easy? How would you want it to turn? Too slow?

Be patient!

The year will be a long one, life is a long (short) one and you are here to enjoy it. Step by step, day by day.

And finally, the last point I want to raise and that I would have loved to have the opportunity to tell my TCK’s one year ago: hug as many people as you can! The energy you can exchange with a hug is a valuable and fulfilling one. We never know when we will not be able to hug those we love anymore. HUG free!

As a shortcut and a reminder:

  1. Going to school every day is a gift
  2. School is more than academics
  3. Live fully the present moment
  4. Stay open and curious
  5. Say thank you to a teacher every day
  6. Keep positivity high
  7. Dare
  8. Share everything you have
  9. Go with the flow
  10. Respect your feelings
  11. Be empathic 
  12. Be patient with yourself
  13. Hug as many people as you want!

Now that I am thinking about it, I could say all of these to myself too. If only I had the chance to say something to myself one year ago…

Author Bio

Carolina Porto is a multicultural coach with extensive international transition and relocation experience serving the cross-culture and global citizen community. She works one-to-one and does public speaking in 4 languages: Portuguese, English, French and Spanish. She has lived and worked in 4 continents, throughout 11 international moves and currently lives in Spain with her husband and her two cross-cultural children aged 14 and 12. 



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