By Kari Steffen
If it’s the first time your family has lived in another culture, you likely have much to look forward to as you step into this new adventure. But that adventure will also be a challenging time of adjustment. Your family will face a lot of changes — in culture, housing, relationships, school, language, food, currency, and more.
Learn more about the phases of adjustment your family will experience at the World Family Education page about Transitions.
Adjusting as a Family
Involving your children in the planning process will help them significantly with this life change. The more you can communicate with them about your plans and include them in the decision making, the better. Ideally, a visit to your new location would be the best way to help your family visualize what their new living situation will be like. That would also be a good time to visit potential schools for your child. This isn’t realistic for all travelers, and if you can’t make an in-person visit, then online research is your next best option.
Most kids love a great adventure, so your attitude toward this experience will go a long way to influence their response as well. As you communicate with your child about your plans, are you excited? Your children will probably be too. Are you anxious and insecure about the many unknowns? Then your children will probably reflect this feeling as well.
A great article at CultureBound describes the cultural learning attitudes people tend to adopt when they live internationally and how these attitudes are absorbed by our children. Parents model the attitudes, and children often imitate them.
You will need to be flexible with unexpected changes to your plans. As you “go with the flow,” your children will see your flexibility and will learn to adapt too. This will keep your family relaxed and focused on enjoying this new experience to the fullest.
Most kids love a great adventure, so your attitude toward this experience will go a long way to influence their response as well.