Dear Momma of TCKs,
In response to my post, "Dear Mom and Dad, Thank You for Following Him in Spite of Me", I received several emails from moms like you who are deep in the trenches of parenting overseas and hope that one day, their children will have the same response to their overseas upbringing that I now do. I so hope that they do. Unfortunately, during these culture-navigating, language-learning, state-of-constant-transition, days, it can be hard to remain fixed on the hope that one day your children will thank you for their overseas experience.
So many articles that focus on the positives of raising kids overseas talk about the "success statistics" of adult TCKs. While this can absolutely be encouraging, I'm sure reading stats like "90% of TCKs earn a bachelor's degree and 30% obtain a graduate degree" isn't particularly helpful when you're trying to potty train your two year old in a country where there are no public restrooms. I want you to know that what you are doing today, what your child is experiencing and processing right now in this moment, is already having an impact.
Raising children isn't easy, period. Raising children in a culture and language that isn't native to you may sometimes seem like a crazy idea. You may stand in the kitchen, melting in the tropical, no-air-conditioning-heat, and wonder, "What were we thinking!?" Yes, parenting overseas is definitely hard.
It's hard when your children aren't dealing well with transition.
When you feel like "just" the trailing spouse.
When you keep thinking that you should feel settled by now.
When you think that your kids have adjusted well only to find out that they are struggling in school, both socially and academically.
It's hard when buying groceries is an exhausting, day-long event.
When you get yet another flat tire from the wear and tear of unpaved roads.
When the power goes out...again.
When your teenager thinks that you "just don't understand."
When your child "just wants to see Grandma."
It's hard when you're at the end of your rope and have no one to call because you haven't made those kinds of friends yet.
But, when you think and wonder and pray and cry, "Did we make the right decision?", "Am I ruining my kids?", "Can I really do this?" Know that...
Your kids are, right now, learning to see the world through a different set of lenses.
As they play with local kids, attend school, and walk through the market, they are learning the beauty of diversity.
When they see crippled beggars, corrupt law enforcement, effects of poorly run government, and are not living in a Western "bubble," their desire to seek justice, love mercy, and serve others is growing.
Seeing you grieve is teaching them that it is ok to be sad.
Seeing your strength is showing them that they can be strong, brave, and confident, even in challenging situations.
Watching you navigate grocery shopping, cooking, and car repairs in a different culture is teaching them how to creatively solve problems.
Seeing your trust in God's provision, safety, and comfort is teaching them that He is the only real source of those things.
Playing games with siblings by flashlight because the power is out again, is deepening and strengthening that bond.
Momma, be encouraged. What you are doing is not easy, BUT, take heart that you are giving your children, future grandchildren, and the world such an amazing gift. The global citizens whom you are raising, will perhaps one day impact the world profoundly because you gave them the opportunity to see, experience, and love the world. What you are doing is so incredibly valuable. This life overseas is not just eventually going to impact your children's future, but it is making a beautiful impact right here, right now...even if it currently looks like power outages, rainy seasons, mosquito bites, and little bare-feet on dirt roads.