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The benefits of raising kids cross-culturally


We leave for the United States in two days. We’ll be there for four months – enough to settle in and establish a few routines, but not long enough to really unpack, mentally and otherwise.

My kids are almost 4 and 9 months old. We’ve lived here for almost two years – this means that our oldest remembers very little about the U.S., and our baby has never even been there.

There are definitely plusses and minuses to raising children cross-culturally – the current terminology for children in this lifestyle is “third culture kids” – but overall, I think the benefits outweigh the negatives.

The Benefits of Raising Third-Culture Kids

1. An expanded awareness of the world.

This depends on how long we live overseas, of course, but I love that my kids are exposed to all different nationalities and cultures. I love that their view of the world will be so much smaller – and bigger – than mine as a kid. When I was growing up, my world was pretty much how far I could ride my bike through the neighborhood. My 4-year-old has been to seven countries – so far. What a difference already.

2. Early bilingualism.

Everyone has heard how much easier it is to learn a second language when you’re young. I can attest from first-hand witness that this is true. My daughter doesn’t know as much of the language as me yet, but she will. In the meantime, her accent is already flawless. And she’s not even trying. Studies have also shown that this increases brain stimulation in other areas as well.

3. A more creative education.

There are a myriad of educational options, of course, and Americans are blessed to have a government that allows a lot of freedom in educational choices (at least compared to some countries). But I love that our children’s perspective of geography, world history, and literature will be so much broader at an earlier age than mine ever was.

Photo by woodley wonderworks

4. Increased self-confidence.

This isn’t always the case, but if the setting is right and the parents are proactive in nurturing their children, third-culture kids have a strong self-esteem. They know first-hand about navigating airports, passport control, different laws of different countries, a variety of cultural settings, and the taste of different foods. They also understand what it’s like to be different than the majority – so if the positives of being true to themselves are nurtured, they’ll have a confidence that many adults still don’t yet have.

5. Increased adaptability.

I’m curious how my daughter will handle the fast-paced American culture. So far, she’s light years more patient than her parents when it comes to waiting on public transportation and living in an event-oriented culture (as opposed to a time-oriented one). I’ve heard that this will transfer over into other areas of life – in college, for instance, or perhaps in dealing with people different than themselves in the workplace. Our kids will much more easily go with the flow when it comes to ambiguity, long lines, and red tape.

These are just a few of the benefits. If you’re interested in learning more about this kind of life, I highly recommend the excellent book Third Culture Kids by David Pollock and Ruth Van Reken.

Even if your family has no plans to live cross-culturally, chances are, your children will have friends hailing from other cultures.  As the world grows smaller and smaller, it’s important to understand the challenges – and benefits – of living among those who have different customs and languages.

I know some of you live cross-culturally. What’s it like for your kids? What are the benefits? How about the challenges? Even if you don’t live cross-culturally, I’ll bet your kids have some experience interacting with other cultures.

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  1. Mary

    I have 4 kids and the 3 youngest were born in Spain; the oldest obviously lived there as well as Italy and Portugal. They were all classified as gifted students in the American public school system on our return (we lived in Europe for 7 years.) I think a combination of teaching them scripture (actual scripture memory), giving them high quality fish oil from an early age and raising them in another culture (along with knowing the language) contributed to their high grades and test scores.

    I love the point you make that American kids living in the States can enjoy these advantages too. People from many countries live in our small southern US town and this town celebrates the diversity we enjoy.

  2. Amy in KL

    We have 3 kids and live overseas – Beijing, Malaysia and now waiting to see which country we go to next. Our oldest is very into Asian popular sports. He is the only native English speaker on the school pino pong team and can talk ‘smack’ in Manadrin about ping pong! Our younger two love foods of our host countries – in Malaysia they can clean a plate of satay – or meat on a stick as we call it – in record time. My youngest was born in China and is the only blond 3 year old I know who loves a good spicy chicken foot – yes, really!
    The down side to all this is our quick trips to the States tend to be stressful and 2/3 of the kids tend to go a little nuts at Target since we don’t have the huge toy aisles overseas.

    Amy in KL’s last blog post…Kitty cat love

    • simplemom

      Yes, for sure. I can’t wait to go to Target myself, but I’m dreading taking my daughter. 🙂

    • Larissa

      lol… I remember when my friend videotaped her shopping experience in the states and showed us the cereal aisle at a grocery store! It was a WHOLE aisle! We were so excited when Lucky Charms came into our little store.

      • simplemom

        That’s funny; I’ve been thinking about the cereal aisles today. I’ve also heard that expats freeze over indecision in American stores, having too many choices. I can see me doing this.

        We recently got tortilla chips, and according to the expats, you’d think it was Christmas around here. 🙂

      • Jaynie

        so funny.. after my first year living in Portugal in 98, my dad took me to Walmart on the way home from the airport and I stood in the cereal aisle and CRIED.. how pathetic was that? I had a complete meltdown when I walked to the milk section and realize I didn’t have to buy it in a box off the shelf!

  3. Elisa

    Great post. My daughters were both born in Switzerland, but we moved here (NYC ‘burbs) two years ago, when Sarah was 7 and Stella was 6 months old. And every summer we go visit my family in Italy – and Sarah started staying behind with my parents to enjoy her summer there. Sarah is used to traveling, and she is never afraid to call a new place home. I love that I am giving my daughters the opportunity to widen their horizons, to see how many possibilities there are in the world.

    Elisa’s last blog post…Let’s talk about Barbie

  4. Heather

    I love your list of benefits in raising children cross culturally. I have to say most of them came up when we were making the decision on whether to move to Japan or not. My oldest was born in Italy but we returned to the states when she 6 months old. All she knows of Italy is the pictures we show her. After we had my youngest we really wanted live overseas again. We really wanted to give our girls the “gift” of living in a foreign country and experiencing a foreign culture.
    We are living some place the most American children only read about (briefly) in history class. My girls are really getting to know Japanese culture by living here – much more than a short visit of 1 or 2 weeks would allow.

    Heather’s last blog post…Oh the trauma

  5. Catherine

    My dad was in the military so we moved at least once every two years when I was growing up – all over the US as well as Korea and Germany. Even moving around within the US helped us be more culturally aware, as there are huge differences between Texas, New England, California, the midwest, etc.

    I will say that moving back to the states after four years abroad (back to back overseas tours) when I was in the middle of high school was a HUGE culture shock.

    Due to my husband’s job, we’re probably not going to be as mobile while my kids are small, but we do seek out cultural experiences for them, and we are fortunate that our church is very multi-cultural. As you said, I think it’s invaluable for kids to understand how differently other people live.

  6. Sue

    I was raised like this. I was born in Europe and didn’t even live in the US until I was in my mid-teens (despite the fact that my one and only citizenship is US). I loved it. There were some downsides, especially since the area where we lived for most of my single-digit years was very xenophobic. So I went through a lot of teasing and my mother met with a lot of hostility from teachers, other parents, etc.

    But still, it was wonderful and I wouldn’t have given up the experience for anything. It’s a huge part of my identity now. I regret that the career path I seem to have fallen into won’t allow me to give my own kids the same experiences.

  7. Lucie @ Unconventional Origins

    My partner and I plan on taking our kids with us when he goes to (hopefully) to Ghana for his PHD work. Although we will probably leave the baby because of Malaria concerns.

    Point being, I think this is incredibly important. Kids in the US tend to lack any meaningful knowledge of the global community, and I think it is great that your kids are having such AMAZING experiences at such a young age.

    While we are being part of American culture, I think that my partner and I being of different races has exposed our kids to much more diversity then they would have otherwise been, which I think enriches them in a variety of ways.

    Great post, thanks for sharing your experiences!

    Lucie @ Unconventional Origins’s last blog post…Motherhood Rant: The Liberal Suppressing Freedom of Speech? Two O’Clock In The Afternoon Is Too Early For Porno.

  8. Christy

    This is a wonderful post. Although I have no experience living in a different culture, I so appreciate the points you make regarding being exposed to others who are from other cultures and more importantly, taking part in educating our children about those cultures as well. Maybe there will be an opportunity in the future to experience another culture…I hope so.

    Christy’s last blog post…Toddlers and Autism

  9. Leyda

    Excellent article! I have to add… that this not only attend to kids raised overseas… it applies to kids raised in a different culture, period. I am puertorican and my son was born back in PR and we moved to CO for doing grad school. When we moved, he was 1.5yr and it was tough on him to understand the language but when we put him in daycare at2.5yr, he learned English in 2 weeks… and I am not kidding. I also live in a multicultural community, americans and hispanics are minority here and he does noticed the differences in language, dressing, food.. and he loves it, he finds it amusing and interesting, he asks all kind of questions. I really love that he is experiencing this and kind of sad that my future kids will not have this opportunity since we are planning to move back in two more years and then have more kids.

    • simplemom

      Great point, Leyda. With the world getting smaller every day, people that used to be “miles away” are now next-door neighbors – wherever the country.

  10. Dana

    Excellent Post! I was raised in Toronto, Canada – the most multi-cultural cities in the world! and I miss it for that reason. I now live in Green Bay, WI – where everyone pretty much looks the same. If you are black in this town the odds are you play for the Packers…. how sad.

    The more we embrace other cultures, the better.

    Dana’s last blog post…Bored?

  11. Emmilee

    My husband lived in Germany for middle school and high school. I love that his parents encouraged them to learn German and then attend the local schools instead of international schools.

    It’s a huge part of his identity, though, and I must admit that he’s a lot more comfortable in myriad situations that make me squirm–simply due to lack of exposure in my short lifetime.

    We’re looking for opportunities to live in Europe in six years when he’s done with a Ph.D. Our oldest will be eight then.

  12. autumnesf

    My mother was raised this way – then my sister and I – now my kids. I think its huge how much we can learn just by not staying in the states all our lives. I’ve often said that Americans should have to live somewhere overseas at least once in their life just to get a clue.

    I adapted well to all the moves and cultures growing up but my sister did not. She would get really stressed, lots of tears and fears and hating moving. Last week I went on a girls trip with her and listened to her tell some other women how good it was and how much she learned from it. I was floored and relieved. Its good to see even those that are hurt the most by it as children can grow up and say that it was good for them.

    Third Culture Kids is a great book and I second the recommendation!

  13. Cornélie

    Thank you for this interesting post!
    My husband is american and I am french. We have been living in France for 15 years. Our 3 children are born here. It was not easy for them to really grasp that they also are americans! Fortunately we do have a lot of english speaking friends and they have opportunities to speak english with children of their own age. We don’t go to the States very often but they read a lot in english, watched movies… I am amazed that all the friends they choose are bilingual, and that it is so easy for them to learn and pronounce other languages! (They take german and latin at school).

  14. Deborah

    I left my native Ireland at the age of 8 and was brought up in the US and Belgium. Look American, sound American, but always clung to my Irishness. Married an American, and moved back to Ireland in 2005 after nearly 20 years abroad!

    Growing up we seemed to move every two to three years and that has been a great advantage to me in one way because I am extremely adaptable to change, whether personal, social or legal. I don’t whine, I don’t complain about the “good old days” I just get on with it and even welcome it.

    I have also developed an acute sense of wanderlust, as has my brother and from chatting at my last class reunion, most of the kids who went to our international school. This can be a blessing and a curse. After a year in one place I start to get restless and now that I have my own kids, that’s not fair!

    Growing up abroad is a huge blessing for children, but be warned very few of them will see that at the time. As a teenager I thought my world was being ripped apart with all the moving, but upon returning to the US for college I could see how much more mature I was, not to mention better educated (being able to start halfway through my junior year with standard EU high school curriculum) than my peers. I had a world view that most of them would not experience for many years, if ever.

    I think Americans often have a unique situation when moving abroad. They generally fall into two camps. The first is the camp you yourself fall into, someone who welcomes the adventure and the education that will ultimately enrich your lives.

    The other camp consists of the ones (and I see it all the time at the American Womens Club here) who cling to home with everything they have. They import everything (I’ve seen them come to Ireland with toilet paper!!), not willing to investigate local alternatives. They don’t integrate and stick to their own little groups often dismissing and even insulting the locals. People who adopt this attitude will not thrive, they will be miserable and their children will suffer and not get the full advantage of living abroad!

    But I digress… I could ramble on all day about this! 🙂 Great topic!

    Deborah’s last blog post…Michigan Harvest Cake

    • Kelly from Almost Frugal

      I also see a lot of people who move here to France as short term expats (less than three years) as very unwilling to let go of their home culture. I admit that there a lot of American things that I miss dearly (mac and cheese, wheat thins etc) but I know that when I leave France I will miss a lot of French things as well.

  15. Dawn

    My husband and I are both american, but both speak spanish. We always said that we would never forgive ourselves if our children grew up not knowing spanish. My mother is mexican, and did not teach us spanish growing up. I learned it while in Venezuela on a mission for my church.
    We have the opportunity to send our daughter to a spanish/english immersion school. She is just in kindergarten, and we are amazed at how much she’s learned in just about 6 weeks. She has noticed the other cultures she was not exposed to before (school is downtown). Blacks, Polynesians, Mexicans, Asians, it’s a melting pot of a school. I think it’s great, and love the opportunity for her.

    Dawn’s last blog post…The eyes have it

    • Joy

      We, too, are raising our children bilingual with English and Spanish and send our 4 year old to a Spanish Preschool. It is amazing how quickly they learn new things – I see the down side of that being they learn far more English than I’d like as I’m trying so hard to keep it 100/100 in the languages.

      We have talked about living in Mexico for a period of time to make sure we stay up on the language and also to truly experience the culture in a way I have a hard time re-creating here in the States.

      Joy´s last blog post…Making Butter! and Cutting Back

  16. Jessica

    Great post! I have to say I’m definitely one of those “third culture kids” (although I didn’t learn the language–that was a bit of rebellious teenager there). I grew up in the Marine Corps and moved all across the US, but also had the chance to live in Japan twice (1984-1986 and 1998-2003), for a total of seven years! It really does become part of your person. I can’t tell you how many times I refer to “…back in Japan” or “when we were in Japan,” people probably get sick of it!

    But I think it’s so important to be aware and immersed (if possible) into other cultures. It changes your perspective on life, people, and America. I was able to travel throughout Japan and Korea, experiences that few are blessed to have. Even moving from coast to coast was a huge difference, especially in middle school! Who knew the same country could be so different?

    I’d encourage parents who don’t or haven’t yet had the opportunity to live overseas to open up their children to different cultures at home. There were a lot of times I didn’t like growing up in the military, but looking back one of the huge benefits was that I was born into a multicultural world–there were few differences in social class and I never thought anything different of having friends/peers who were Asian, Hispanic/Latino, African-American, Caucasian–it was just the way it was.

    It wasn’t until I moved out of the military community for a few years when my dad was on recruiting duty that I even became aware that there was a difference. I had a girl in my class ask me why my skin was still tan in the winter when all the other white girls weren’t (I’m biracial my mom is white & my dad is native American).

    Long comment, but great post Simple Mom!

  17. Vintage Mommy

    I’ve spent some time living in Europe, but only as a young adult. I would love to give my daughter that kind of experience.

    She’s learning some Spanish at school, but I wish they’d teach it “immersion style” instead of having them memorize the days of the week and colors, etc. As you say, their little brains are so ready to absorb more!

    Vintage Mommy’s last blog post…I Shouldn’t Have Gloated

  18. Brandy

    Check out my site, I gave you an award. Thanks for doing such a great blog, I enjoy reading it everyday! You really are an inspiration for me to get my life more simplified!

    Brandy’s last blog post…Adopt A Blogger

  19. Keilah

    I am so excited to read this, as we are planning on moving to New Zealand in the next year or so. My sister is already there and she has three kids. I have seen the difference in her children and it is refreshing. They were three, five and nine years old when they moved six years ago. I have noticed a better sense of respect, politeness and work ethic that not too many American teens show. My little ones are a year and a half and three and a half and I was curious how this move will change them. Thank you for all wonderful insight! (as always you do a great job informing)

    Keilah’s last blog post…Roc Wolfgang Reeder 6/28/80-9/28/08

    • Gail

      what part of NZ? I am from Christchurch and miss it everyday of my life. Its the best place in the world to live, imho lol

  20. Cory

    While I understand and appreciate what you and the many responders have shared, I do not feel that raising my children in Iowa farm country and only Iowa farm country has injured or hindered them in any way. I just have to look a little harder for ways to “broaden their horizons”. My husband’s career does not involve moving or much travel, which is fine because he is definitely not a world traveler type of guy. Does this make us bad parents? I certainly hope not. I suggest that there are many benefits to living in one place for an extended period of time (lifetime, in our case): grandparents living in the house accross the driveway, most extended family within a few hours driving distance, pride and involvement in our community, city, state and national civic and social involvement, life long freindships, and many other reasons I could list. Are we sheltered? No! There are many different ways a person can be involved cross culturally while still living intelligently, purposefully and contendedly in one location. We had a wonderful experience hosting a foreign exchange student. He fit perfectly with our family and we love him as much as our own children (I cried for a week straight when he left). Mission trips, and ministries to the local immigrant families are a couple other ways we get a taste of life outside of Iowa. Vive la différence!

    • simplemom

      Absolutely, Cory. I lived in the same house for 18 years, and I had a great childhood. There’s something to be said about roots that go deep – I miss that dearly for my children. Like I said, there are definitely positives and negatives to cross-cultural living.

    • Larissa

      I grew up overseas and moved a lot! I loved this life and could not imagine anything different. I am now married to a man that has lived his entire childhood in one place and has a career that will prevent us from ever moving. At first, I hated this idea, but now I love this! I never knew that I yearned for “roots”. I remember being insanely jealous of my husband for having childhood friends that he grew up with! I never had that. He knew where to call “home”. I was always stumped with this question…. I was born in a foreign country, my mother is from one country, my father from another, but yet, I am a citizen of neither of their countries and had spent very little time in my country of citizenship.

      I would never give up my experience of living overseas as I loved that and it makes me who I am today. But, living in one place and having roots is also a wonderful experience that I am so happy to give to my daughter.

      • simplemom

        Beautifully, said. I’ve heard it said that the hardest question for a third-culture kid to answer is “Where are you from?”

        Thanks for sharing. Both lifestyles are rewarding.

    • Joy

      I have lived within 30 miles of where I was born my WHOLE life – and I live a sheltered life. That’s not bad. There are benefits to staying put and to experiencing life abroad.

      I’m so happy to have found this post as it just reinforces what we are trying to do – raise our kids to be bilingual in every way.

      It’s always nice to see reports of life abroad and the ways it impacts the lives of children.

      A foreign exchange student is a wonderful idea! And then letting your child be an exchange student…. that is where I see the circle happening.

      Joy´s last blog post…Making Butter! and Cutting Back

  21. Kristin

    Thanks for the post! I’m relatively new to Simple Mom, and so far I’ve really enjoyed your advice on, well…everything. My husband and I are missionaries in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and we have a 1 yr old son. It is difficult being so far from family and friends, but we do love the chance to live abroad and raise our son here. Everyday I feel stretched and blessed to experience this different culture and I’m so glad that we have this opportunity. I really wanted to be a flexible, patient mom and living in another country definitely teaches you this! Thanks again.
    ps – we also get to go “home” in 2 weeks for a 6 week visit…yeah!

  22. Heidi @ Mt Hope

    What an incredible childhood you are giving your children!

    Hey, remember to email me if you want to meet up while you’re here!

    Heidi @ Mt Hope’s last blog post…Yaquina Bay Lighthouse

    • simplemom

      Absolutely. I’d love to meet you!

      Which reminds me – if any of you live near the Austin, TX area or the Eugene, OR area, let me know! Use the contact form above.

  23. misty

    i loved reading this post b/cs it makes me miss several of my friends who were MKs. and they are exactly as you describe, and how i often wished i were. i also have a 9 mo old (is yours born in dec?) in addition to my 2.5 yr old and while we are not overseas, dh and i are trying to teach them a 2nd language now while they are young. we plan to be overseas before the end!

  24. Gracia

    While I’ve been raised all my life in the same country (and when I have kids, they probably will as well, I think the fact that my boyfriend is German and I come from a family half French half Spanish AND we’re both translators and interpreters and are used to interact and learn from other cultures will really benefit them. I think it’s also great for children who do not have the oportunity to live abroad but who DO travel, to learn to visit a place and not limit themselves to the tourist spots. Teching a child how amazing it is to get to know a new culture or a new place is feeding him with “cultural hunger” as some may call it and it may be raising a future traveller.

    Gracia’s last blog post…Writing from Andorra!

  25. Gracia

    I just realized, as I wrote the comment, that I’m writing from a foreign country… ok, maybe we do travel.

    Gracia’s last blog post…Writing from Andorra!

  26. Deb

    Thanks for this post – i had never heard of “third cultire kids” as a term. I am American (from NYC) and married to an Englishman and we currently live in Australia (where our 2 girls were born). My husband and I are of different religious backgrounds as well so our children are being raised to be open to all variations on what life has to offer. They don’t know anything but a multicultural life and always ask questions to understand the “why’s” and “how’s” of the world.

    Of course it is hard with no family nearby but you learn to connect with other families and thanks to this great modern age keeping in touch is inexpensive and easy!

  27. Nikki

    I have no personal experience (although this post makes me really wish I did), but I absolutely think the benefits would outweigh the negatives. I think anyone who helps their children become more experienced citizens of the world is amazing. The kids are definitely ahead of the curve in terms of where we all should be, and it’s simply making the world a better place.

    When I was little, I had a French cousin who would visit the U.S. often. I would make her read my children’s books to me in French. I just remember watching her and thinking – SHE IS SO COOL.

    P.S. Good luck with the Target toy tantrum!!

    Nikki’s last blog post…Gueth What?

  28. Expat Mom

    I`m Canadian, but ended up down here in Guatemala and have a Latino husband. We`ve got two children now who are being raised bilingually (my 2.5 year old speaks both English and Spanish fluently while the 1.5 year old favors Spanish, but understands both). I try hard to incorporate Canadian traditions into our lives, like Thanksgiving, etc.

    We do plan to travel in the future, both to Canada and other countries. Possibly even live there. My husband isn`t so sure about living in another country for more than a couple of weeks, but since we`ll be homeschooling, it should be fine. I`m sure I`ll be able to convince him to try it. 😉

    Expat Mom’s last blog post…Scrapbooking Article Published!

  29. Amy in China

    I love this post! It makes me very hopeful for the future. Like your family, we have also lived overseas for nearly two years. Our son was recently born in the States, but we came back to China when he was two months old. We are very new at raising children, let alone raising children cross-culturally! But we are loving every minute of it (most of the time), and we look forward to the great benefits of having a “third-culture” child!

    The only things that are more difficult would be the distance from family of course, and the lack of good medical care where we are living. If we had any big problems health-wise, we would most likely have to get on a plane to Thailand to take care of it. But other than that, we’re doing great, praise the Lord!

    Amy in China’s last blog post…Putting a baby to bed on time is VERY important.

    • simplemom

      By far, our biggest challenge is living so far away from extended family. We’re really close with them, so it makes it really difficult (especially on days when you wish you had grandparents nearby for babysitting!). I’m so thankful for technology like Skype – my kiddos “see” their grandparents all the time that way.

  30. CC

    I’m so with you on #2! I’m a Speech Pathologist and I tell all my families TEACH YOUR KIDS ANOTHER LANGUAGE IF YOU CAN! We almost enrolled our son in a bilingual elementary school for that reason (didn’t work out though…).

    CC’s last blog post…A spikey, speedy little reminder

  31. Gail

    Boy oh boy I needed this post.

    I am from New Zealand, my husband, California. My youngest boy was born in NZ but we moved to Cali a short time later. Now we live in Italy. I am finding it hard to fall in love with it. For some of the reasons you mentioned above, red tape, insane traffic and totally different mindset. It’s all a matter of perspective isn’t it.

    I am grateful to be reading your ways to think more positively about this experience. Thank youAlthough as a photographer the photographic opportunities here in Italia are once in a life time.

    Thanks for the boost today.

  32. Francine

    Wonderful post. My husband and I are expecting our first child and this is very interesting to me because I am originally from the Caribbean, but we live in France – he is French. I am looking forward to raising a bi-lingual, bi-racial, cross cultural child, I think it will be a wonderful experience. I definitely think the benefits will outweigh negatives. I consider myself very lucky to have had the chance to live in a different country and learn a second language.

    Francine’s last blog post…Sprucing things up

  33. Jackie

    Thank you so much for your post! My husband I are getting ready to move overseas with our daughter, and it was so encouraging to read your post. I have always been excited about raising our children overseas, but it was nice to hear thoughts from a woman who is in the midst of it. I know you shared a little bit about education, but would it be too personal to ask what ya’ll do for education? Do you homeschool or send your children to school? We don’t have to make decisions about schooling now since our daughter is young, but I appreciate wisdom from women who have been there. Thanks again for your post!

    Jackie’s last blog post…She’s a Screamer

    • simplemom

      I’m in the same boat as you – my oldest is not yet 4, so we don’t do anything yet. But as of now, we plan on homeschooling. I like the idea of a homeschool co-op, where parents rotate teaching different subjects to a group of kids. Kinda the best of both worlds – homeschooling, yet with a group and not all is on your shoulders.

      Believe me, I have a lot to learn and research about education still! But it’s very much on my mind and heart.

    • Dena

      I live in China and have taught English in the schools here, so I have a little experience with the education system of a different country. It’s going to depend on where you move to and how your values differ from the values of what the schools teach. I don’t have children yet, but I don’t think I would send my children to school here because I don’t believe in evolution and several other ideas that they teach in schools. Also, you have to think about how they teach their children. There are usually at least 50-70 students in one classroom. It’s widely known among cross-cultural people here that Chinese students are very good at memorization but they lack almost any ability to be creative. I’m talking about the general population, there are always exceptions. On the other hand, sending your children to school and picking them up everyday with the other parents and talking to the other parents during this time and having their friends from school over to your house could be a wonderful experience for you.

  34. Sarah at Ohana Mama

    We moved to Hawaii March of 2007. Yes, Hawaii is a U.S. state, however, it is definitely not part of the mainland. Hawaii has it’s own language, culture and sub-cultures. To live in Hawaii is much much much different than coming for a vacation.

    I know at times I miss the conveniences of the mainland (I can’t believe ALL that they have over there and how I took those things for granted – now I get overwhelmed by all the variety and sort of feel glutenous when shopping or eating out – I mean, so many choices!)

    It shall beinteresting to see how our children, my son is 3.5 years old and my daughter is one, grow up in this culture. I want them to learn all about it and use this expierience to grow into more open minded adults that seek out adventure, new (sometimes scary) eperiences and get involved in cultures different from their own.

    Mahalo for this post!

  35. Julie

    I am so completely thrilled to raise my kids cross culturally in South America. I love that my son’s global perspective is already much bigger than mine was growing up. I am awed that he is learning three languages without any effort and no accent and I am grateful that he’ll have close friends around the world.

    There are certainly hard issues about living cross culturally, mentioned in the book you highlighted, but we don’t believe they outweigh the huge benefits we’ve experienced thus far. We are thankful to live the life we do.

    Julie’s last blog post…God Doesn’t Come Late

  36. Laurel

    Ironically before I even met my husband I did graduate research on TCKs! We have three kids and he is is the Foreign Service so we have spent over half our married life abroad. We’ll finish this tour and go back to the States for a few years next summer. I think that time will be telling. It is VERY easy to stay in the expat ghetto for a lot of good reasons. My kids are not remotely bilingual going to an international school. So far (kids are 7, 5, and 2) so good. I agree with what you and others have said above – there are some wonderful benefits and some very real costs to this life. When David Pollack wrote his book, technology was very different. I think that some of the sense of emotional isolation that kids felt will be lessened by the way kids are constantly virtually connected now. I’m sure that will raise other psychological issues we haven’t thought of:)! The life isn’t for everyone – but we have been happy. Thanks for the post!

    Laurel’s last blog post…Vijaya Deshami – Happy Dashain 2065!

  37. Liz@VioletPosy

    I’m English, and my husband and I are considering moving to Canada, just so our daughter who’s 5 can live in a different culture for a while. In the meantime though we are travelling all over so she can experience different cultures, food and languages. So far we’ve done Canada, France and Ireland. Next year we’re hoping to get in Italy and the US.

    Luckily the school we send her to, teaches French and Spanish and has children from everywhere Scandinavia, Sri Lanka, USA, France, Italy, Greece and they all teach other parts of their languages and they celebrate each others cultures which I think is wonderful.

  38. reneegrace

    just wanted to comment and let you know, from a ‘3rd culture kid’ perspective… YES! Its wonderful to have grown up in a 3rd culture country. I would recommend it, and hope to give my kids the same exposure.

    reneegrace’s last blog post…A little bit of Mukinbudin from Rachel’s house

  39. Tricia

    I just found, and now love this Blog. We lived in Portugal before our children arrived, but are now including them in our adventures. We moved to the island of Tenerife, Spain this past June. It is a wonderful experience, for the most part, and I can already see the difference in my two 16 month old sons behavior, knowledge and palates compared to their peers back home. Just curious, Simplemom, where overseas are you living???

  40. Denise

    I truly enjoyed reading this post and all the comments. I am so happy that I am not “the only one” thinking all of the points listed above.

    I grew up in Latin America, but I have lived most of my adult life in the United States. My family is everywhere in the world: Europe, Asia, and South America. My daughter speaks three languages and we travel as much as we can.

    I love culture and languages!!! I truly believe that we get a better understanding of the world and the human race when we can speak other languages, this i have learned with experience. In addition, this is the reason why I am a full immersion instructor of foreign languages (French and Spanish).


  41. Stephanie Rueter

    One way in which a lot of parents expose their children to different cultures is by hosting an au pair. Au pairs come from all over the world to spend up to two years with an American family to provide in-home childcare. The benefits to hosting an au pair are endless. The weekly cost is just $330 (per family, not per child). The au pair works a schedule you decide. And your children are safe in the comfort of your own home. And, unique to this form of childcare, au pairs can teach children another language, teach them games and crafts from their home country and generally open their eyes to a different culture. For more information, check out:

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