Why my children are not growing up abroad

27 Sept 2017

I may be raising my children abroad. My husband may be raising his children abroad. As a couple, we do live abroad. However, as a family, we do not live abroad. Our notions of abroad are all different. My children have little notion of abroad. 

Why my children are not growing up abroad

What is abroad for them? What is abroad for us as a family? As a cross-cultural family of 4, where each of us was born in a different country, abroad means little. Abroad for whom? Abroad as opposed to what?

In a recent discussion in a forum, I noticed people mentioning the word abroad had connotations I never really thought about. Some mentioned it implied short-term. Others thought it implied a developing country or even an island.

According to the Oxford dictionary, the adjective abroad means: "In or to a foreign country or countries." Hence, a country or language other than one's own. Abroad is often taken as the opposite of home.

For me, abroad would be anything that is not France (where my passport is from). Yet, I do feel as though Germany is home nowadays as I live there and have done for since 2011. England also feels a little like home having spent 13 years there. If my husband and I are both raising our children abroad, our definition of abroad is not the same. His passport is Portuguese, so France would be abroad for him.

Miss 7, born in England, living in Germany with a French passport and a father from Portugal defines home as Germany most days. She also likes to say she is British. She is a cross-cultural kid.
She is shocked when we tell her some of her cousins have never been in a foreign country.
She thinks nothing of driving 30 minutes and crossing a (mostly non-existent) border to go food shopping.
Her vision of borders, foreign lands and abroad-ness is certainly not the same as that I grew up with. As a cross-cultural child living in Europe, she is certainly privileged in this regard.

Why my children are not growing up abroad
PIN me to read later
Much like for many third culture kids, she feels at home in many places around the world. She feels she fits in while at the same time missing a part of her identity while in a given country. However, as opposed to TCKs, since there is no repatriation ever, no accompanying us somewhere outside of our country, CCKs* do not have one home. If there is no one home, there is no abroad. 

Because the definition of home cannot be determined geographically, for us as a family, abroad makes little sense. Abroad is just not a word I use very often, just because it feels too ambiguous.

Abroad to a cross-cultural kid is just as ambiguous as home. It is not a geographical place. It is rather a feeling, people and emotions.


*'TCK: Third Culture Kids 
*CCK: Cross-Cultural Kids

Post a Comment

Thank you for your feedback.