Guest Posting at Djibouti Jones – A TCK Talks About Raising TCK’s

Today’s post is perhaps the truest piece I’ve ever posted. It is a piece I needed to write and I look forward to hearing from some of you. I’ve included an excerpt here and then I ask you to go to Djibouti Jones to read the rest of the piece.

Just being brought up by people who didn’t and still don’t feel fully here, fully present–that’s very intense,” ….. “It’s not just all about the house we live in and the friends we have right here. There was always a whole other alternative universe to our lives.” from Jhumpa Lahiri: The Quiet Laureate – Time Magazine 2008

English: Maria Spelterini is walking across a ...

If I could pick two words to describe my life they would be the words “Between Worlds”. Like a tightrope walker suspended between buildings, so was my life.  My tightrope was between Pakistan and the United States; between home and boarding; between Muslim and Christian.

Since birth I knew I lived in a culture between – I was a third culture kid.

I realized early in life that airports and airplanes were perfect places of belonging, because I was literally between worlds as I sat in airports, idling the time with my books and my brothers waiting for flights. Or sitting in the airplane, row 33D, buckling and unbuckling while settling in to a long flight.

I always knew I would raise my children overseas. In my mind it was a given. It made complete sense – it was a world I loved and my kids would love it too.

But there is a curious dynamic when an adult third culture kid moves on to raise third culture kids. First off, you transfer your love of travel, adventure, languages, and cross-cultural living. You don’t worry that they will be away from their passport countries, you don’t worry that they’ll miss aunts and uncles. You know theirs is a life that few have, and even fewer understand but you also know that in many areas the benefits outweigh the deficits.

So I was set. My world was a world of expat comings and goings, making friends with Egyptians, conjugating verbs in Arabic classes, and attending events at international schools. It was a world of change and transience and we were at home within that transience. We didn’t name the losses – we didn’t think there were any.

But then we moved. We left our home in Cairo of 7 years, our life overseas of 10 years, and moved to a small town in New England. A town that boasted community and Victorian homes, a small school and tidy lawns. A town with white picket fences and white faces……..Read More Here!

14 thoughts on “Guest Posting at Djibouti Jones – A TCK Talks About Raising TCK’s

  1. I think this happened to my mom. She LOVED military culture. Loved, loved, loved it. She didn’t want to leave it when we did, and it made for many years of unhappiness for her. The military was so much a part of my mom’s identity (and, at the time, mine) that not living in it was strange.

    It’s so hard not to look back and yearn for the past, or wish we didn’t have to do re-entry when we did. We have a friend who worked with TCKs in China for years. She’s writing a book about TCKs, actually. And she told me that TCKs are homesick for the people they loved more than the place, but since in the expat world the people are shifting all the time, what they’re really homesick for is a TIME — time they can never go back to. I REALLY feel that. Some of my memories are so strong, and that’s the only form I have them in, memories. As you say, if home is the place our story begins, what happens if you can’t go back??

    I’ve been reading Between Worlds this weekend, and it struck me again how very true this is. I cried a lot, actually. Your words have been universally true for me. It made me thankful all over again for the rich Czech heritage my maternal grandparents gave me, rooting me in something solid and ancient. All the tastes and sounds of Bohemians during the holidays, all the cousins who were loyal friends through all the transitions. I think that’s why I miss my adult cousins so much, even now.

    The thing I love about God is that we can always take Him with us, wherever we go. We always have our relationship with Him. Moving overseas as an adult teaches us this. I know I learned that my first term, and I was just talking with someone today at church who was expressing the very same sentiment. I guess for you, someone who always lived overseas, it is re-entry that teaches that same lesson. Like when you talk about identity not being a place you live at, but a Person you live in. I’m so thankful the God who made us also gives Himself to us.

    Ok, long enough comment for now. Suffice it to say, I think I needed to cry those tears this weekend. As per usual, it exhausted me! But it was needed.


    1. I didn’t know you had a Czech heritage — so amazing Elizabeth! And I’m so honored that you are taking the time to read Between Worlds. Have you seen some of the research on children’s resilience? New research shows a direct correlation between resilience and a child knowing their story – – knowing who they are in relation to a bigger picture. I love that. I blogged about it last year so forgive me if this is a repeat!


      1. My mom is full Czech. :)

        The stuff about resilience isn’t a repeat. I try to keep up with everything, but I’m sure I miss or forget some things. Knowing our stories is so important to our family (especially with Jonathan’s parents being dead) and our kids love hearing family stories so much that I can’t imagine not having that value — good to know it’s a good value to have!


  2. I’m late, but just found your article on Djiboutijones and it resonated…the ending quote was an amazing thought, something I will carry with me as I raise my own TCKs…


    1. I just read your comment and loved it! And I too continue to feel most comfortable around expat communities and restless here. I love my friends here and they are not second best in anyway….perhaps it’s that I like myself and the way I parent better when I’m overseas. I’ve appreciated your blog this past year as well and you are an amazing connector of people!


  3. Since we raised TCKs I’m very interested in your blog and others who address this subject. The complexities will generate more dialogue I hope. AND it will be great to hear from your children’s generation. Also, let’s hear from those TCKs who for one reason or another didn’t have that urge to travel/work outside their passport country.


  4. Although I’m not yet a parent, I am an ATCK living back in my passport country (US) after nearly all my life overseas and so many things you wrote in this post resonated with me. My husband (also an ATCK) and I moved back just over 2 years ago for his job, and it’s been a tough transition… We’re in a small city in New England, where there aren’t really many expats, TCKs or foreigners, so it’s definitely been an long process to adapt. It helps being able to connect with TCKs around the world with blogging, and reading posts like these always make the burden easier to bear, so thank you for sharing.


    1. I just went to your blog…you need to put the like and share buttons on there! I’m loving it and finding so many points of intersection! Would love to hear more about where you grew up as well as the New England town you’re in now….that was us to a T!


      1. That’s strange – the like and share buttons are usually there…I’ll check that out and see what’s going on! I grew up all over the place (US, Mexico, Philippines, Australia, France, UK for master’s degree and now back in the US – in Connecticut!). Thanks so much for stopping by my blog – I’m already following yours and enjoying every post very much!


  5. Hi Marilyn, I love this post. I relate to it so well. Thanks for writing it and expressing feelings and thoughts that I have had, though not so well constructed. I am an ATCK raising TCK’s and now we are back in our home culture. I am out of my comfort zone and yet at the same time I fell free knowing this is right and good and what God has for us right now. So many people commented that it must have been so easy for my husband and I to live overseas because we had grown up overseas. I guess it was in some ways but I think it might have also been a hindrance. I have read that real growth takes place out of our comfort zones. I pray that it is true because here I am. Thanks for your honesty.


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