Families on the Move
is the kind of book many people who work overseas have been waiting for, since planning to work overseas involves not only the adults concerned but also their children, whether these go with them from the start or are born overseas. It should be required reading for all couples contemplating work assignments overseas.
The book is written by a woman who has herself brought up a family overseas. She writes from a Christian perspective, but the issues and excellent problem-solving advice are common to most expatriate communities. It contains many useful and well-researched quotations from other authors, and a short but useful bibliography. The style is easy-read, with funny cartoons, listed points, and modern language.
In the missionary community, children are commonly called MKs (Missionary Kids), or TCKs (Third Culture Kids). Basically many of them do very well, but there are those who get into trouble, and who need special understanding and care, as well as future preventative action. The book addresses both of these groups admirably. The course of the child’s life is traced from selection, preparation and departure to ultimate final return to the country of origin. Every stage is described in some detail, and includes practical advice and guidance. For example, the chapter on Building Bridges describes ways of remaining in touch with the country from which they came while at the same time building bridges within their new country. The old is remembered in family rituals, routines, and celebration of their familiar national days. Local national days are also celebrated, unless the parents feel that not all of them are suitable for their children, and many aspects of the new community are incorporated in the family life. This helps if schooling is local, for the expatriate children have already experienced some of the new culture in their own homes. The reverse side of this coin is also mentioned, i.e how to handle children who move so many times they end up with no culture.
Educational problems are carefully discussed; research having found that problems with children’s education are a potent source of parental stress, and good advice is given. In another section of the book the parents own problems are sensitively discussed, because it is recognised that parents’ problems in the new country may react on their children.
Later chapters deal with re-entry problems on return to the old home country, which of course is not home to the TCK. The book closes with a discussion of Christian childrens’ reactions to their parents vocation and its impact on them. Finally there is an appendix on Childhood development by Dr Marjory Foyle, and a short bibliography.By a copy now from the Global Connections online shop!