|Photo by HONGQI ZHANG via 123RF|
The experience of third culture kids – or children who lived for significant periods in a culture outside their original home – have a life compared to a double-edged sword. Ruth Van Reken, the co-author of Third Culture Kids: Growing Up Among World, warned that if the transient nature of their existence is left unaddressed, the issues can crop up as anxiety and depression in later life.
On the plus side, being a TCK has its perks such as being comfortable with cross-cultural interactions, usually the ability to speak multiple languages, a three-dimensional awareness of the world, and friends in many places. However, it also has drawbacks such as identity struggles because of moving frequently, lack of full ownership of any one culture, and chronic grief due to the experience of recurring loss, Southeast Asia Globe reported.
Cycles of separation
Reken explained that TCKs go through so many cycles of separation and loss of friends, family, and places they love. The accumulation of loss is high because every time they lose something they love, the TCKs will suffer from grief.
However, she noted that among TCKs, grief is often not dealt with or recognized because the losses are often hidden. Many times, there is no time to deal with loss or permission because other people will point out the blessings of their lives.
The whole world died
Reken said that TCKs are thrown out of one environment into a markedly different one, leaving them with no time to fully bid goodbye the world they have only just come to know. She pointed out that a child who is leaving a place he/she really loves and who is not given the time to process the situation would feel as if the whole world died on him/her, Conde Nast Traveler reported.
Pico Ayer, who gave a TED Talk -- titled “Where is Home?” – estimated that the number of people living in countries not their own, which includes TCKs, is at 220 million.