Very often I’m asked about my children and their integration process here in our host country. As I always explain, moving to Germany has been one of the greatest experiences we could’ve ever had, so many opened doors, so many chances to expose our kids to other cultures and languages… simply put: PRICELESS. Although we have our difficult days, integrating into the host culture has been a smooth journey. I think being and staying positive at all times has been the key to our success as a family of five living abroad and learning a third language. After too much talking, my husband and I have summarized the things that we consider important to us to raise children far away from the home country, and we would love to share these with you all:
1. Be informed. Read, ask, visit the web, travel… just gather as much information about your future home as you are able to. People tend to fear the unknown, and your children aren’t different. They need to know where you are taking them.
2. Make a list of things to be accomplished during the farewell and transition periods. We are great fans of “lists”! I make lists for everything! Your child needs to say his or her farewells before flying to the next adventure. Also, it would help considerably if your children have a plan of what needs to be done after arriving to the new town. Language learning? Visiting a sport club? Buying a bike?
3. Support your children and their emotions. Don’t ignore their feelings. Please let them know how you feel, too. Help them understand that it is normal to be afraid of what we don’t know and that with time, all these feelings will dissipate to open new doors for them and the whole family.
4. Stay united, be a unified front. Children need to be surrounded by love and supported by strong family connections. Also, new roles will be better adjudicated if each member of the family feels special, valued, and part of a group.
5. Be positive, have an optimistic attitude. Little ones learn tons by following examples. Your kids look up to you! It is your job to show them an enthusiastic approach towards change and its consequences.
Somehow these points have taken us through highs and ups. Our children have integrated into their host community and its traditions. They are happy kids learning about globalization and diversity, and we feel so proud of them!!!
How do you handle change at home? Tell us about your expat experience!