15 Things I Want to Tell My Third Culture Kids

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15 Things I Want to Tell My Third Culture Kids

*Get your copy of Third Culture Kids here

I get to visit two of our Third Culture Kids in four days. And then in eleven days they will be ‘home’ for thirty days. Life is good. Until forty-five days from now. No, it will be good then too, just quieter and slightly more teary.

Part of me hesitates to hit the publish button today, it feels private. Is the internet the place for these things? But part of me thinks I’m not the only parent overwhelmed and honored and pumped up about raising TCKs. And this part of me wants to acknowledge that alongside other parents and our kids and to share in all the emotions of it. So here is some of what I want to say, and have said, to my own TCKs…

  1. You are the coolest kids on the planet. You cliff-jump and climb up and then down into active volcanoes. You flew internationally on your own before becoming a teenager. You sleep under the stars on the beach and know how to pee on a toilet or in a hole or behind a bush or where-there-is-no-bush. 
  2. I know it is hard. I watched you, proud and teary, the first day of school when you didn’t know how to count to ten in French and on the first day of school in America when you didn’t know how to eat lunch in a cafeteria. I see your moments of hesitation when kids talk about something you don’t understand. I saw your shoulders droop that day you wore your traditional Djiboutian dress to church and then, once you saw how other kids were dressed, asked if you could take it off. I hear all three of you refer to a different place as home.third culture kids
  3. I don’t know what it is like. I know what it is like to parent a TCK but I don’t know what it is like to be a TCK. I’ve read books and listened to talks and attended seminars but you are forging a path I have not walked. I’ve got your back and I’ve got a box full of Kleenex and an ache in my belly from our shared laughter. I do not know what your particular journey is like but I will hold your hand, fierce, until the very end.
  4. I am sorry for the things this life has taken from you. The names of all the friends you have said good-bye to are branded in my mind. Grandparents and cousins at your birthday parties and school events. The feeling of belonging to a specific place, house, culture, language. A mom who can be a parent chaperone without having an accent. Sports and musical and academic activities at which you naturally excel but will never fully experience.soccer2
  5. I am thrilled for the things this life has given you. Adventure and a wide-cracked-open worldview. The opportunity to trust God when nothing around makes sense or when everything around makes sense. Friends all over the world of diverse faith and languages and skin colors and food preferences and economic levels. Multiple language fluency. Creativity and the intrinsic ability to look outside the box, to see from another person’s perspective. Real gratitude, stemming from an understanding that things are fleeting, gratitude for relationships and for time spent in togetherness. Adaptability. Courage. Courage. Courage.
  6. I want to hear from you. Tell me how hard it is, tell me the things you love, the things you wish were different, the things you would never change. I need to hear from you what it is like, I need you to be honest with me about the goods and the bads and then I need you to let me hold you. And I need you to hold me.
  7. I cry for the choices we’ve made. And then I defend them with passion. It isn’t easy to parent a TCK, or any kind of kid, and I have wept tear-stains into our couches and our pillows and the shoulders of dad’s t-shirts. Sometimes I wonder if we have been crazy or irresponsible. But then I look at you and I cry again, good tears, because you are beautiful and complicated and deep and these choices have been part of forming you into you.
  8. You are strong. You’ve been through evacuations and international moves and medical crises and hellos and goodbyes. You have tried new and scary things. You have laughed and cried but I haven’t heard you whine and complain. You have more than embraced life.
  9. You are unique. No one else in the world has your story. And yet, you are part of an amazing community of people with stories similar to yours and stories different from yours, whom you can listen to and learn from.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
  10. You have built awesome memories. Remember the time you camped at Arta Plage and the flood came and the French military rescued you? Remember the time you carried baby God through the neighborhood in Balbala, head of a train of singing and clapping families? Remember meeting the Harlem Globe Trotters?
  11. You have grief. And that is okay, mom and dad are not afraid of it and we want carry it with you.
  12. You are creative.
  13. You are empathetic.
  14. You are wise.
  15. I am beyond proud of you.

You know that book, I Love You to the Moon? Well, I love you to Somaliland. And Kenya. And France. And Djibouti. And Minnesota. And anywhere else. And back.

If you are a TCK parent, what do you want your kids to know? If you are a TCK, what do you want to hear? Or say?


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  1. denise March 11, 2013 at 7:03 pm - Reply

    As the parent of a missionary I began to weep by the time I reached #2. You have expressed so beautifully the life choices that were made for my grandchildren when they moved to Haiti. I completely support my daughter and son in law living there. But all these things you mention are a page out of the life of my grandchidren. Thank you for sharing your heart with us..and with those who want to but cant understand.

    • Rachel Pieh Jones March 12, 2013 at 4:54 am - Reply

      Denise, I had myself crying as I wrote the post. I appreciate hearing from a grandparent, I know it hasn’t been easy for our parents, though they are wonderfully supportive.

    • Marsha September 29, 2013 at 4:00 pm - Reply

      Crying with you Denise as I too am the grandma to little ones who live very far away. God knows our hearts and loves our babies so much. I promise to pray for you and would love it if you’d do the same for me.

    • Mariam March 18, 2018 at 3:38 pm - Reply

      I just want to know if you know guys the ISD school in Djibouti.
      Is it expensive the fees if the school wants to embrace the people or to encourage them to learn or transit from French to English is it reasonable to go down on the fees.

  2. Kimberly Warner March 11, 2013 at 10:27 pm - Reply

    As the daughter of a TCK, a TCK myself, and now the mother of a TCK I fully comprehend each and every one of those statements. My prayer is that my TCK will love and appreciate her opportunity in life and learn that this was God’s perfect plan for her, as I have learned in my own life. I would never change the life experience I have had and thank God each and every day for it.

    • Rachel Pieh Jones March 12, 2013 at 4:56 am - Reply

      Thanks for sharing Kimberly, you have a perspective I would envy some days – knowing what it is like for my kids – but we all have to trust, no matter what our background is, don’t we? And not all TCK kids or experiences are the same. Great to hear from you.

    • Stina Marie April 5, 2013 at 4:56 pm - Reply

      Me, too.

  3. richelle @ "our wright"-ing pad March 11, 2013 at 10:42 pm - Reply

    so… i want to comment as well… but i can’t because i’m crying myself.

    we’re launching our first tck and i’m so amazed by the young man he’s becoming… even as we are up late working on financial aid info and a scholarship application.

    this was nothing short of beautiful… mind if I link to it from my blog as well?

    • Rachel Pieh Jones March 12, 2013 at 9:41 am - Reply

      Totally Richelle, thanks for linking up and thanks for walking the journey (via internet) a few years ahead of me. Appreciate your wisdom and this connection we’ve been forming.

    • Bruce May 17, 2013 at 7:39 pm - Reply

      As a TCK parent (4 at “home” now) I want to encourage you. It is hard and bumpy, but our Lord holds our hand and that of our growing-up children.

      Thanks so much for your well-thought messages, Rachel. Every one is so clearly on-the-mark. These are the things I want my kids to know.

  4. Kassidy March 11, 2013 at 10:48 pm - Reply

    You had me crying too, Rachel. As a TCK, I don’t regret a bit of my experience. I view my past experiences growing up overseas as very rich. There are two things I have been thinking about recently related to being a TCK:
    1) My experiences have made me highly adaptable. This summer we moved from inner city Minneapolis to rural Minnesota and it was hardly a culture shock. In fact, I don’t think that culture shock would hit me no matter where I ended up. To use your terminology, I am a chameleon. I can adapt. At the same time, there is always an interesting tug-of-war. I can be content wherever I am at and I feel content now, but having had so many different experiences, there is always a part of me that misses something from the other environments I have been in. I miss the unpredictability of living overseas and the variety of living in the city, but I love the simplicity of rural life.
    2) I have struggled with being judgmental and I have noticed this with other TCK’s, particularly MK’s. It is sometimes easy to look at Americans, especially wealthy Americans, with disdain. I contantly have to remind myself that most people have not had the experiences I have had and know no better.

    Just some thoughts… I appreciate your posts and insight. You are a great mom!

    • Marilyn March 12, 2013 at 12:01 am - Reply

      Kassidy – I love your honest response. I’m a TCK as well and have raised TCK’s. I do a lot of writing on TCK’s and am currently co-writing a book with a friend (fellow TCK) Recently I had another friend write a post on my blog called The Arrogance of the TCK. It brought up a lot of these kind of feelings and ‘confessions’. But one of the things that emerged is that often insecurity and lack of belonging translate to others as arrogance, pride, and being judgmental. It has been an interesting dialogue as well as made me do more thinking.

      • Sarah Stoner April 10, 2013 at 7:07 am - Reply

        Mariyln, I’d love to hear more. About your book… about your friend’s blog post on The Arrogance of the TCK… as a fellow ATCK (ugh, really dislike that acronym–attack!??!), and a fellow writer who writes often on Identity and Belonging. Thanks! Sarah

        • Marilyn April 11, 2013 at 3:38 pm - Reply

          Hi Sarah – I’d love to talk (email?!) more about this. communicatingblog@gmail.com is my blog email. I’m in Istanbul right now with terrible internet service but will respond when back in U.S. next week. This is a big thing and topic to me as well…

    • Rachel Pieh Jones March 12, 2013 at 4:59 am - Reply

      Kassidy, there are so many things I respect and admire about the choices you and Jeremiah have made. I wouldn’t be be surprised to find out in heaven that your experiences as a TCK perfectly prepared you. Like Marilyn said below, I appreciate your honesty too. She’s got some great reads on, well, lots of things. Do you have books that have helped/blessed you over the years in this arena?

    • Grace March 13, 2013 at 2:46 am - Reply

      I understand what you mean about judging “wealthy Americans”. I’ve been there as a TCK too. For me, it was a response to my own insecurity. To love others meant I had to put my value in what God thinks of me instead of how others see me.

      I learned that we are to approach everyone believing the best about them, being open to learning about them, and loving them. God gives us the ability to love others as He already loves them.

    • Becky March 21, 2013 at 8:50 pm - Reply

      I am a TCK as well, and even almost 20 years after returning to my passport country, I still struggle with the judgement sometimes. But more than that, I struggle with guilt. I drive my new (well, not anymore) SUV to my large house in my upscale neighborhood, where we have waaaay too much stuff and still want more, and I remember the people I grew up with, in one of the worlds’ poorest countries. People who had so little and yet were so content and generous, and I feel so guilty. I give and do what I can, but I feel like I should do so much more. I wonder if this is something common to adult TCKs who have remained in their passport countries?

    • Jodi March 29, 2013 at 2:27 am - Reply

      You said something about being judgemental in your posts, especially from MK’s. I thought that was just something I had to work through. You don’t know the truth you’ve written there.

  5. Marilyn March 12, 2013 at 12:02 am - Reply

    And Rachel – I LOVE this post so much! Will share – so many people I know will appreciate this. Thank you yet again for your writing.

    • Rachel Pieh Jones March 12, 2013 at 5:00 am - Reply

      Thanks Marilyn!

  6. Alaina March 12, 2013 at 1:00 am - Reply

    I am a TCK. My husband is a TCK. We are raising our own TCK. We have loved the changes, countries, and knowing a different language. Our skin fits in where our heart does not. Transition is comfortable. Goodbyes are the hardest part. Thank you for writing this post!

    • Rachel Pieh Jones March 12, 2013 at 5:01 am - Reply

      Wow – love this: our skin fits in where our heart does not. That is such an interesting sentence, makes me think and captures many things at once.

      • KatC March 21, 2013 at 9:02 am - Reply

        As a grown TCK, my experience was the exact opposite – my heart fits in where my skin does not. I stood out so much, that I never truly fit in. I recently told my mother that “I was born a foreigner in my heart home”. I will never be “from” somewhere, not the way others are, but I wouldn’t change my TCK background for anything. My life is forever and deeply enriched because of it. The joy far outweighs the grief.

        • nicole March 21, 2013 at 4:30 pm - Reply

          I am a grown TCK as well and i completely understand this. I was always seen as a forgiener where a grew up because my skin was different but that was my heart home and now back in my passport country my skin fits in but my heart does not, i never can truely answer the question of where is home, and i dont think i ever will

  7. Casey March 12, 2013 at 7:07 am - Reply

    I was a TCK raised in Haiti. We lived out in rural Haiti. Closest person to my age that spoke English was my mom. Parents think they are blessed to have kids that will sacrifice and live abroad, but the TCK is the one who is blessed. I was blessed to have parents that had the courage to see there were bigger things going on in the world besides my comfort and do something about it.

    • Rachel Pieh Jones March 12, 2013 at 8:04 am - Reply

      Wow. People have been telling me that this post made them cry, but your comment made ME cry. Thank you for seeing that in your parents and for speaking it. What a beautiful perspective.

    • Kassidy March 13, 2013 at 12:40 am - Reply

      I love your comment. My parents were the same. In fact, my mom hated the term MK. She called us KM’s because she saw us as having an important role in moving overseas. It was really empowering.

      • Rachel Pieh Jones March 16, 2013 at 8:07 am - Reply

        That’s a great perspective – letting the K part, the human part, be more defining than the global circumstance part.

  8. mpieh March 12, 2013 at 9:12 am - Reply

    Thank you Rachel, once again, for the gift of your beautiful words. There are few things more intimate than a mother’s words for her children. Thank you for sharing your words for your precious three with the rest of us. I feel privileged.

    While I wasn’t raised as a TCK, I am a PK (pastor’s kid), raised by parents who were dedicated to being obedient to the Lord above all else, and following Him wherever he might lead. That meant numerous cross-country moves for our family, often to locations that were far away from our extended family. And although we never left the United States, we did live in East L.A. at one time (when I was age 9 to 15). For a shy “white girl”, lost in a sea of cultural diversity in enormous public schools, that often did feel like a foreign country to me. But…BUT…I would not trade those experiences for the world! They helped shape me into the person I am now…

    A mother who, along with her husband, is dedicated to obedience to the Lord above all else…following him where he leads. And, for the time being, that means raising our 4 children thousands and thousands of miles away from our extended family. And as much as our children love their Alaskan home, the older they get, the more they feel the tug, the ache of the separation from their beloved grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles. As a mom, that breaks my heart. But I answer my kids’ questions as best as I can, and I pray that they will someday be thankful for their parents’ obedience to the Lord, and not resentful.

    All that to say, I can’t fully relate to the TCK experience, or to the experience of parenting TCK’s. But I do have a small sense of understanding. Rachel, I have deep admiration for you, Tom, and your kids, and for others like you. And I appreciate your sacrifice and your courage.

    Sorry for taking up so much space with this LONG comment! You really got me thinking about things I haven’t thought of or fully expressed in a really long time! It was quite therapeutic. 🙂

    • Rachel Pieh Jones March 12, 2013 at 9:44 am - Reply

      You can comment as long as you want Mandy. Usually you either make me cry or give me good music suggestions or make me want to visit Alaska! I can see how your kids would have similar experiences and how you would feel that same tug. Distance is distance, no matter where it is. I do feel like you understand me/us, in the deep waters. I have been blessed by watching you and Keith and how you have intentionally maintained close connections with relatives, it is clear how precious family is for you guys. Okay, got to go, now I’m crying again…

  9. Cheryl March 12, 2013 at 12:37 pm - Reply

    Good morning..I just happened upon this pos this morning..I am neither a TCK nor raising TCK..Just a mom of 4 in the good old USA. We have friends that are missionaries and love to hear the stories of their life when they are home on furlough. Their kids are amazing and adapatable as someone stated. Interestling enough, no matter the country that these families are serving, their kids don’t refer to the states as home. They are always equally excited about going back home. It’s what they know and love..Our kids have done short term missions and our family has done many projects in supporting teams. Maybe one day a trip will be part of my life but for now God calls us to support.Blessings to you and your family,,I will definitely continue to follow you..

    • Rachel Pieh Jones March 12, 2013 at 5:01 pm - Reply

      Thanks Cheryl. I love hearing how you see the kids of your friends, people living overseas need support systems in the ‘home’ country like you – observant and aware and involved. Wonderful!

  10. Jessica March 12, 2013 at 3:48 pm - Reply

    Thank you, thank you for writing this! As a TCK myself (SE Asia)about to move to East Africa with our two sons, this resonated with me on several levels. I am so excited for our boys, for the experiences they will have, for the worldview they will develop, but I have a lot of worries at the same time. I know what it is like to not have that sense of belonging, to be the weird “outsider” for a year in the American junior high school, to watch my mom cry as she dropped me off at boarding school. This piece is so beautifully written – will be coming back to read this over and over!

    • Rachel Pieh Jones March 12, 2013 at 5:04 pm - Reply

      Sounds like we will be sort-of neighbors soon! One thing that constantly helps me is when I realize that my friends raising kids in Minnesota have incredibly similar concerns and worries. I guess it is in our mom-natures. Blessings as you all transition.

    • Stina Marie April 5, 2013 at 5:11 pm - Reply

      Hey Jessica.

      Wow. Your comments here resonate so much with me, especially about watching your mom cry as she left you off at boarding school. I’m the daughter of two tck’s and a tck myself as well as my husband and we are raising (so far) one tck (although, I think she will be a fourth culture kid or something, lol). You mentioned you grew up in SE Asia. We’re actually headed there to live in the near future. 🙂 All the best on your own move!

  11. Molly March 12, 2013 at 9:21 pm - Reply

    Wow, I could NOT have said it better! As the wife of a TCK and mom to 4 TCK’s, I was saying “Yes!” to #1 and crying by #2! Thank you for putting it into words in a way I never could. I linked to it on fb b/c I think it is so helpful for others to understand what TCK’s go thru and be able to be more compassionate as a result. Thanks again.

    • Rachel Pieh Jones March 13, 2013 at 5:50 am - Reply

      Thanks for sharing it Molly, its something I would have loved to read in our early years overseas I think – to see the strengths and to not feel alone in the struggles, which one of the reasons I decided to post it.

  12. Jodie March 13, 2013 at 12:37 am - Reply

    Rachel, This is beautiful, powerful, and so, so true! I love the way you have captured the blessings and challenges of TCKs and of raising TCKs. That our journeys as parents are similar and yet much different than our kids. I think it is great how you communicate to your kids that you want to hear how they are doing, to laugh and to cry with them, and that you are holding their hands tightly and cheering for them loudly! I love your emphasis on the word courage. I can see that in my kids and in other TCKs too. Thanks for sharing from your personal life to bless many of us who are on this journey as well.

    • Rachel Pieh Jones March 13, 2013 at 5:50 am - Reply

      Thanks Jodie.

  13. Sheryl March 13, 2013 at 2:59 am - Reply

    I’m neither a TCK nor a parent of one, but they are my people group! I’ve had the privilege of teaching TCKs and working with them and their parents my entire adult life. I posted a link to this post on a page I have for parents of TCKs on facebook. Thanks for sharing your heart.

    • Rachel Pieh Jones March 13, 2013 at 5:51 am - Reply

      What a great phrase – they are your people group. Wonderful!

    • Amy April 19, 2014 at 8:03 am - Reply

      I would like to know about the facebook group for parents of TCKS. Thanks

  14. Becky Mullins March 13, 2013 at 2:04 pm - Reply

    Oh my goodness. I am not a parent, or a grandparent, or a teacher of a TCK, but I am a friend and a prayer warrior of some. I, too, am crying after reading this! What a beautiful word picture you have drawn to share the story of the lives of these precious ones. You have giving me ideas now of even more ways I can pray for those who sacrifice so much. God bless and prtotect all of you!

    • Rachel Pieh Jones March 13, 2013 at 2:43 pm - Reply

      Thanks Becky, so encouraging to hear how you can use these words to be spurred on to prayer.

  15. Martin Tims March 13, 2013 at 4:37 pm - Reply

    Our mentrix said: God has a special place in his heart for Missionary kids, tears came into my eyes, emotions overwhelmed me.

  16. Sandy Rockwell March 13, 2013 at 5:18 pm - Reply

    Wow!!! Wish I could use words as powerfully as you do. You have expressed perfectly what I would want to say to my two TCKs. Actually, I read it aloud to my daughter as I read it for the first time and was overcome with emotion to the point of tears as have been so many others. I especially resonated with the point regarding a parent’s wondering if they were somehow damaging their children by their choice to serve the Lord in a foreign country. Also, our oldest daughter is now completing her second year in college in the US and I am going to send her this link as I am sure she will be encouraged by your words. God has certainly given you a gift. Thanks for sharing it with the rest of us.

    • Rachel Pieh Jones March 13, 2013 at 5:42 pm - Reply

      I LOVE that you read it out loud to your daughter. That made me cry again. I’m going to see my two in Kenya tomorrow and though I’ve told them these things before, thanks to your comment, I’m going to read it to them. I’ll have kleenexes at the ready. Thank you for the idea!

      • Mamatja March 14, 2013 at 11:45 am - Reply

        Rachel, I wish I were going to Kenya to see my daughter! But she comes home from RVA in two weeks and I CAN’T WAIT! She is our last TCK in the nest. I plan to read this to her when she gets home and even to write one myself for all my kids. Thank you for sharing publicly.

        • Kathleen March 24, 2013 at 3:54 am - Reply

          Mamatja- Your little note touched my heart. I was the last TCK in my mom’s nest, an RVA alum, and I remember the anticipation of Easter vacations from your daughter’s side. What filled my emotional reservoir was the fact that when we were home my parents made us their priority. Yes they maintained other responsibilities, but it was clear that our family time was precious. I am forever grateful for that! May your family time be precious as you celebrate the risen Lord this Easter. Blessings!

  17. andie March 13, 2013 at 6:43 pm - Reply

    I’m the mom of 2 TCKs and right now my home base is #5 through 7 of this post! It’s so easy to have so much guilt on the hard days when I think, “you never asked for this! what have I done to you??” Growing up, I never dreamed I’d be overseas, let alone have children that go to school in a different language than I did. It’s such a wild ride. But man, it sure does make for awesome kids.

    • Rachel Pieh Jones March 14, 2013 at 4:37 am - Reply

      Totally, awesome kids!

  18. Rachel March 14, 2013 at 12:16 am - Reply

    First off, my name is Rachel too! How cool is that. Second, I am a TCK myself at the age of 11 (6th grade). I spent 8/11 years of my life living in China and as soon as I read the first one, I knew that I was going to be able to relate to every single one of them. I love to write, and my cousin who also loves to write says that because we are very emoitonal, that is why we are able to write so well. I often feel as though my characters in my story are somehow related to my feelings, thoughts, and expieriences. My mom sent me this link and said that this is a good article for me. I want to cry so badly right now, that I am holding in the tears. I have beem trying for years to explain what I am feeling, because no one (not even I could) could explain it good enough. Not until you did. I think that you got the closest to my heart than anyone else ever has. I have moved 8 times and I know what it is like to say hello and good bye to some of the greatest people I will ever know. I’ve lost all my photos, trophies, toys, etc. in a flood that washed away all our things in storage and now all I hav is those memories. Friends at my school ask me, “Did you like i there? How could you ever want to go back there? Wasn’t it terrible there?” Sometimes a lie and tell them that I love it here and want to say. Other times I tell them that I want to go back and stay there. I tell them that I love it in China, and that China is a wonderful place. It is not the I hate where I am right now, just that I would rather be somewhere else.
    Please pray for me 🙂 and thank you for this powerful message

    • Rachel March 14, 2013 at 12:28 am - Reply

      By the way, I posted this link onto my blog:http://hotelsun.blogspot.com/

      Thank you 🙂

    • Rachel Pieh Jones March 14, 2013 at 4:40 am - Reply

      Wow Rachel, (great name), I’m so glad you wrote and shared your heart. You can cry! And I will pray for you. A song that I love, and that makes me and my 12-year old daughter cry, is Painting Pictures of Egypt by Sara Groves, I recommend it highly. It pretty much says exactly what you have expressed, only to music! I would encourage you to keep writing, keep thinking, keep trying to access the depths of your experiences and your life. I find that by putting it to paper, I understand it better. Thanks for adding the link to your blog.

  19. Linda March 14, 2013 at 12:47 am - Reply

    We have 5 TCK’s. When I fret and worry over parenting and admittedly life mistakes that actually would have been made in some form or fashion as parents no matter where we lived. It is not an excuse but helps me to have a more accurate view of parenting. Fact is, we loved them, liked them and tired our best with God’s help. His grace is sufficient for me and for them as well. Thanks for your insights.

    • Rachel Pieh Jones March 14, 2013 at 4:43 am - Reply

      Yes – some of our struggles would have been struggles anywhere, and then there would have been other ones too! I like your fact is…Amen.

  20. Lana March 14, 2013 at 6:57 am - Reply

    I love this post, especially the part where you admit you don’t know what its like to be the TCK. sweet post.

  21. Beth March 14, 2013 at 8:18 am - Reply

    Born in Bolivia, lived in Argentina, Wisconsin, Indiana, New York and no California makes me a TCK. As a kid, I don’t ever remembering thinking I was different or wanted it different. Whatever my parents’ attitudes were, that’s what mine was. So, Momma, you are the greatest example your kids will ever see.

    The ability to adapt and accept is as natural as breathing. What a blessing it was/is to be a TCK!

  22. lynna March 14, 2013 at 12:14 pm - Reply

    I’m a TCK and hated it growing up but so thankful for it now. I learned more about life and myself than I would have as a “normal” American. Even my husband looks at my blood relatives and is amazed at the difference in us. It wasn’t easy, but I have determined life no where is easy. We missed out on certain relationships like grandparents and such, but we gained so many more in our missy aunts, uncles and cousins. I wouldn’t give any of it back. I’m thankful for my parent’s following God’s calling rather than staying in the comfort of the familiar and safe!

  23. Joan March 14, 2013 at 1:30 pm - Reply

    Yep, tears (again). Getting ready to say goodbye to my four oldest TCKs in a couple of months has my heart ripped to shreds.

  24. alisa March 14, 2013 at 1:32 pm - Reply

    Thanks so much for sharing this. We are preparing to move to Ecuador long term from Australia later this year and are taking our 3 little girls. Lately I have been asking myself all those questions, am I doing the right thing by them, will they resent me etc. As I read this in tears I felt total peace and comfort that we are doing the best thing for our girls, demonstrating obedience to Christ and showing them Gods heart for all people to know Him. Thankyou

    • Cristina March 17, 2013 at 2:37 am - Reply

      I was a TCK (MK) in Ecuador – it makes me so excited you’re going to my “home”! Where are you going? What will you be doing? My parents moved there when I was 3, I lived there for 14 years. I wouldn’t trade the experience for the world. It does come with a lot of heart ache, but the joys and broader vision of the world and life make it so very worth it. I learned so much from my parents, from the culture, and from being involved in ministry. I am now starting as a missionary myself. ‘¡Ánimo!’ Thank you for following God´s leading and teaching your girls to do the same!

    • Rachel Pieh Jones March 17, 2013 at 6:05 pm - Reply

      Blessings as you prepare and as you leave. So glad this found and helped you in this specific moment.

    • Kathy S. March 29, 2013 at 2:37 pm - Reply

      Funny to read your comment…we lived 18 years in Ecuador and are now with the same mission in Australia (northern WA). We loved our time in Ecuador…our youngest two are very proud that they were born there. We are originally from the US (I grew up in Texas, and my husband is an MK who grew up in Colombia). Our oldest two (I am suspicious that the comment from “Cristina” is from our eldest daughter)seem to have come to terms with being TCK’s. They are now adults and have such fond memories of life in Ecuador. Daughter #2 plans to return full-time as soon as she graduates from uni in Minnesota in May. A suggestion for you…link up with older missionary mums who can encourage you as you adapt to a new culture. Also, find opportunities for you (and your family) to interact with the Ecuadorians around you. They are such a loving and gracious people. You will find God blessing you in wonderful ways as you live in obedience to Him.

  25. Kim March 14, 2013 at 2:02 pm - Reply

    you do not know me… i found this link on facebook…

    we were teachers overseas for the last 10 1/2 years (plus 1 furlough). My husband was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer in 2011, and we found it necessary to return “home”. My four kids loved where and how they grew up. They miss living overseas so much…

    thank you for your timely post. It was a wonderful way to share with my kids what was in my heart but could not quite find the words!!

    God used your words to help this mama’s heart and kids!!!


    • Rachel Pieh Jones March 17, 2013 at 6:06 pm - Reply

      Thanks for commenting Kim. Blessed to be a blessing on you and yours. I can only imagine your journey of faith and trusting.

  26. Katy March 14, 2013 at 2:39 pm - Reply

    Thank you so much, I’m printing this out! You have written so beautifully and yet so simply into words those things that are deepest and dearest to my heart as a mom of TCKs.
    I look forward to reading your blog and your other articles!
    P.S.By the way, I was in Djibouti one time and I have never been so hot as I was that during that one hour layover! Stay cool 🙂

    • Rachel Pieh Jones March 17, 2013 at 6:07 pm - Reply

      Haha! Someone who knows the heat of Djibouti.

  27. Vance Wood March 14, 2013 at 4:02 pm - Reply

    Your post was awesome… I sent it to each of our children who are now grown TCK’s… You did a great job expressing the heart of a missionary parent… Thank you!

    • Rachel Pieh Jones March 17, 2013 at 6:08 pm - Reply

      So fun to hear how people are passing this on. Thanks for letting me know!

  28. Dave Lewis March 14, 2013 at 5:48 pm - Reply

    Don’t see any men on here, but there are surely other fathers of TCKs like myself who wept over your post. As my youngest TCK son (now 26) finally finds an environment here in the U.S. in which he can feel good about himself, I think I may have experienced more anguish than he in the process. I am the one responsible for the life he’s had. And while I know God has honored our service and our decisions, that doesn’t mean it was easy. I would rather bear the pain myself than watch my children endure. But on the positive side (and there is SUCH a positive side) I rejoice in the way my son is the incredible, complex, empathic person he is because of his identity as a TCK.

    • Rachel Pieh Jones March 17, 2013 at 6:09 pm - Reply

      Yeah for dads! Isn’t it true that we seem to feel some of the pain for them? Through worry and fear and guilt? So thankful for grace.

  29. Marshela March 14, 2013 at 6:25 pm - Reply

    Thank you so much for writing this – I sent it to my parents, since we’ve had many conversations like this. Being a TCK is not easy, especially if you return to the US and decide to settle here. I’ve spent most of my adult years feeling misunderstood and constantly adapting and explaining myself and ideas to my husband or friends. I don’t think any of them quite understand me the way that I would like. But within the awkwardness that I constantly feel, I also have a strong sense of who I am, and I wouldn’t want to be anyone else. I wouldn’t want to have lived any other life. Sometimes I want to pick up my family and move abroad just so that my daughter can have the depth and empathy and wisdom that were instilled in my sister and other TCK friends. This is beautiful. Thank you for sharing it… it means so much.

    • Rachel Pieh Jones March 17, 2013 at 6:09 pm - Reply

      Thanks Marshela.

  30. Jim March 14, 2013 at 7:58 pm - Reply

    Great stuff! Glad I discovered your blog and will send a link to our workers around the world. We raised four kids in northern Kazakhstan – they are all young adults now and to the person are thankful for their childhood. One is even getting her PhD in Kazakh history. TCKs rock! For parents (whether in the USA or over yonder) just make sure your children know that they are not second after your work or ministry. They are part of it, not a distraction from it. Coming back to the USA is hard, but there are some great re-entry programs I would encourage ALL parents and agencies to send their kids to – MTI in Co Springs does a fantastic re-entry for adults and kids. Barnabas and Interaction are other groups that do these. That re-entry retreat was life-giving for our kids when we moved back when they were all in their late teens (one already in college). I’ve told my kids, you’ll never been normal, but it’s in a good way. 🙂 But I said, even if we’d raised you in the USA, you would be different than the prevailing culture because of Who we serve.

    • Rachel Pieh Jones March 17, 2013 at 6:10 pm - Reply

      Great suggestions Jim and thanks for sharing the post!

  31. KC March 14, 2013 at 10:02 pm - Reply

    Hi there, I came across your blog via pintrest and this post really touched me. As a TCK I still wrestle with things but am also so grateful for the legacy my parents have given me. I posted a response on my blog. http://lulukangaroo.blogspot.com


    • Rachel Pieh Jones March 17, 2013 at 6:13 pm - Reply

      Thanks for the link, I commented over on your blog.

  32. Doug March 14, 2013 at 11:35 pm - Reply

    I’m the father of two now 30-ish tcks who both joined the +1-million mile frequent flyer club by age 10. I used to horrify some family members telling them that around their 13th birthdays both of my tcks began feeling a steady but gentle pressure between their shoulder blades. It was my foot gently…and painfully to me…pushing them out into the world. By the time they were each 15, they were wise, confident, and accomplished international travelers. Their sense of grace and poise when in tough spots continues to delight…but never surprise…me. What they surrendered as North American tcks they more than gained as young adults with a much more balanced world view then I had. They are truly amazing people. They will always carry the mark of the tck (I STILL have trouble shopping for toothpaste and ordering from a restaurant menu because there are too many choices!) but they constantly set the bar high and urge me to keep at it.

    • Rachel Pieh Jones March 17, 2013 at 6:14 pm - Reply

      What an amazing testimony to your kids and your family.

  33. Rachel March 15, 2013 at 12:10 am - Reply

    It is amazing how many people you have touched in just a few days. You have a talent for writing, and I am jealous of it!! Keep writing, and I’m sure that you will lead several to God. Keep doing what you do, because you are touching people’s hearts! Finding the right words for expressing your thoughts, and the thoughts that others have thought of too! I am glad that you clicked the ‘Publish’ button, because this was something a lot of us needed to hear and share with others. Thank you and I mean every word I said. I hope that all the TCKs will understand that they are not the only ones going through this. Thank you Rachel!

  34. Jonathan March 15, 2013 at 4:08 pm - Reply

    When your TCK turns 30 your TCK will want you to know that they will read this and will have to fight off tears at work because they will still miss home even if they have lived in the USA for 15 years.

    Jonathan, that 30 year old TCK

    • Rachel Pieh Jones March 17, 2013 at 6:15 pm - Reply

      Thanks for this Jonathan. I did read it to my kids and I think they thought it was dorky. But I believe they will come back to it when they are, oh, 30.

    • Deniz May 7, 2013 at 1:10 pm - Reply

      As a 34 year old TCK, I totally agree with you Jonathan. I was in tears reading this, and I feel homesick again.

  35. Thomas March 15, 2013 at 4:44 pm - Reply

    You have captured the heart of an international parent beautifully- please let me know if I have your permission to repost on our website supporting international teens.

    • Rachel Pieh Jones March 17, 2013 at 6:16 pm - Reply

      Thomas, yes, you can repost. That would be fantastic! I only ask that you post a bit, like the intro and 1-3 or something, and then link back to the blog. That helps with google searches and whatnot. But yes, please share it.

  36. Ruth E Van Reken March 15, 2013 at 6:02 pm - Reply

    Thanks for your post. My dad was a TCK, so was I, and I raised 3 myself and our first granddaughter was born in Ghana. I never met 3 of my grandparents as two are buried in Iran but when our daughter was leaving for Ghana pregnant with our first grandchild, I wondered for the first time how it had been for our parents when my husband and I left for Liberia pregnant with their first grandchild! HOpe you’ll write the book for parents! Many have asked who is going to write that so hope you or others will!

    • J-anne March 16, 2013 at 8:22 pm - Reply

      Ruth, I agree -I hope Rachel writes that book for parents of TCK’s. The joys and blessings of being an MK are told to us (I’m one) over and over, everywhere. The pain, losses, and suffering you, Rachel see that your kids have/will go through is very unique and heart-opening to others.

      I, as an MK, your awareness of your kids is special. Rarely have I seen missionary parents actively confront both blessings and losses of MK’s. It is hard for any parent to acknowledge pain in a child’s life that is “caused” by them. From my experience and many MK’s I’ve met, the losses and pain often get unseen, overlooked and ignored as “unfit.” It’s a painful truth for a parent to see their child suffer, yet it is there. And strength will come through being with them in the hard times -seeing what they need, not what the parent wants to see. Ignoring the pain, shows the us, the kid that pain is not ok, so we stuff it inside, not wanting to pain our parents by being in/showing pain. A massive communication barrier.

      Unless we finally do let it out when we realize it is okay to have pain. Ruth, the open honesty about your life is such a gift: it gives credence to the blessings and pain, while honoring your parents. Thank you for writing your gift of writing.

    • Rachel Pieh Jones March 17, 2013 at 6:19 pm - Reply

      Ruth, when I saw your name here I knew it, but I didn’t believe it. I have been so helped, SO helped, over the years by your book. Thank YOU for offering such wisdom and encouragement and understanding to parents and TCKs all around the world. Thanks for the encouragement too, to write a book for parents. I’m working on a different book right now, but you never know what the future holds!

  37. HH March 15, 2013 at 6:33 pm - Reply

    Great thoughts! Lots of good feed back from many different people in different stages of life! My husband and I are TCKs raising 4 TCKs. This next week I am teaching at a camp for TCKs. I had looked for some material to use, but then decided to not focus on TCKs, but just encourage them and emphasize some of these same ideas through a more general teaching. This communication is great because so many times I am at a loss for words communicating my feeling about this!

  38. steve swope March 15, 2013 at 7:28 pm - Reply

    Thanks for this post Rachel. My wife and I work with MKs as they transition from life overseas to the U.S. With your permission I’d like to quote your post as we share with churches, families, and others about the difficult transitions MKs and TCKs make. Blessings on you and your family as you navigate the challenges of living and growing up “between worlds.”

    • Rachel Pieh Jones March 17, 2013 at 6:21 pm - Reply

      Yes, please use what you feel would be helpful. Thank you for asking.

  39. Elisabeth Strout March 15, 2013 at 11:10 pm - Reply

    As something of a TCK (raised in French Canada by missionary parents), moved to the U.S. as a preteen, visited Kenya as a teen, then moved to Egypt and married at age 18, and looking forward to raising my own kids insha’Allah in Egypt or U.A.E. in a few years, this resonated hugely with me, not only because I’ve experienced the feeling of being torn between three different places, and always saying goodbye to one group of friends, but because I stay awake nights wondering how on earth I’m going to guide my (future) kids through such a sea of cultures and languages (I speak 4 and my husband speaks 2, and I want want my kids to speak at least 4), when I can barely navigate it myself. Very glad I ran across your blog, and without a doubt I’ll be back for more!

    • Rachel Pieh Jones March 17, 2013 at 6:21 pm - Reply

      Thanks for sharing Elisabeth. We like to sing happy birthday in all our languages, I can only imagine how long that might take your family!

  40. Gala Covington March 16, 2013 at 5:17 am - Reply

    I love love love how u write my heart with ur words! It is amazing how much we all have in common, isn’t it! My three girls were the first PK’s in our family…they were the best PK daughters too (unlike the images on the new reality show right now)! God has always opened doors in my life from a young age until now and I have usually gone through those doors and one of those doors was the ministry…I am so glad my husband and I did BUT one of my favorite things to tell my daughters is “I want u to do even a better job than me and do even greater things for the Lord!” And I have so totally seen this happen in my girls lives because u see I believe every journey begins with the first step and when I made those steps along with the Lord
    He made the journey easier!
    He opened another door and then our girls became KM’s (I like the comment of the woman above about the initials her mom turned around)! We lived in Russia 5 years only when they were 7,9, and 11 and oh my how that one move has changed all our lives but most importantly what our girls have become because of that time! They are all married now…have served the Lord in their 20’s in Japan, Ukraine, Mexico and then met their husbands and are now PW’s themselves having PK’s! Our oldest has no children yet but they r moving to Bangkok in a couple of months ( I thx her for sharing ur blog)! Ur blog floods my memory with soooooo many wonderful stories…many that show me how God was in the midst of it all! Thank u for saying what is in ur heart and for mot holding back sharing it for u have blessed me, my daughters and so many others! God bless u! My daughters and their talented dad did a tribute to me thru video one Christmas (when two of the girls were living in Japan and Ukraine) because I was missing them and if u would like to watch it…my daughter recently posted it on UTube! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ve9NYyvvdMM&feature=youtube_gdata_player

    Of course this is priceless to me!

    • Rachel Pieh Jones March 17, 2013 at 6:23 pm - Reply

      Thanks Gala!

  41. Kristen March 16, 2013 at 6:21 am - Reply

    I am so blessed by your words, and I am sure I will be blessed even more later in life when my MK’s are bigger. As a mother of two boys (2 and 4) and one on the way, I can’t help but think at times that I’m screwing my kids up. They were born here in New Zealand and all of their friends are here. I dread the day we have to leave. I just pray that we keep doing God’s will and He will hold my babies in his hands.

  42. […] who blogs at Djibouti Jones, wrote a post called 15 Things I Want to Tell My Third Culture Kids.  The post is a tear jerker (and so, so sweet), but this has got to be one of my all-time favorite […]

  43. Jesse Irwin March 16, 2013 at 11:33 am - Reply

    I’m an MK who grew up in Ecuador, Ohio, Ukraine, Russia, Alabama, and, now, Arkansas as an early adult. It’s been a long road for me to accept/appreciate my parents’ decision to be missionaries overseas because of the pain that I felt and continue to feel from insecurity/not belonging. The TCK experience is a blessing, but, also, thank you for acknowledging that it’s hard (#2) and that you don’t know what it’s like (#3). I’ve been told so many times how cool/special I am with my experiences, but I didn’t want to hear that because the people who said those things weren’t TCKs (my parents included). They were right, but it’s essential to also acknowledge that TCKs aren’t just people who have great experiences: we have a lot of aweful experiences and there is always that feeling of someting missing, whether it’s home, belonging, safety, normalcy. MKs are Isaacs under the knife: sacrifices made by parents in obedience to the Lord. The sacrifice of being derooted, for one. Isaac was a willing sacrifice, and that’s huge. I think MKs (PKs and TCKs, too) need to hear, more than anything else, that people care about their struggles. And that God cares. I’m still processing/learning, as I will my whole life, to be like Isaac and accept God’s call to my parents and my place in that story because I realize they struggle, too.

    • Becky Aguirre March 17, 2013 at 2:24 am - Reply

      Jesse, thanks for your comment…thanks for your honesty! I agree, being an MK/TCK is a mixed blessing because while there are so many interesting and positive experiences in our lives, there are also so many negative ones as well. I also appreciate this post because it validates the negative and recognizes some of the struggles in being an MK.

      I am a MK/TCK and now am the mother of four TCKs and while I relate to their experience in many ways, I still have to remember to not gloss over the losses and grief they have and will experience in their lives…I need to remember to help them process their experiences and perhaps I can help them avoid some of the pain I have felt with my own past.

      The derooting has been hard for me and it’s never easy to feel comfortable back ‘home’…God bless you on your own journey!

    • Rachel Pieh Jones March 17, 2013 at 6:24 pm - Reply

      I also appreciate your honesty. Thank you for sharing the struggle.

  44. J-anne March 16, 2013 at 8:33 pm - Reply

    “What do yoWhat do you TCKS’s wantto hear? say?”

    Wow. What a gift. Gift? Yes, the gift of someone WANTing to listen, being willing to withdraw judgement, and simply validate feelings (doesn’t mean they are true…but the feelings are real and will lead to healing and true relationship!). That gift is rarely given to MK’s…if ever. The host country people don’t get it. American’s don’t understand the impact of it. Parents often don’t want to hear it for fear they won’t have been perfectly meeting their kids’ needs. (I understand this guilt/fear, but it opens up truth and actually stonger relationships between parent/kid)

    That is what I (and I think the whole world!)needed and needs to hear. That someone -a human, not just God- does see and care.

    • Rachel Pieh Jones March 17, 2013 at 6:26 pm - Reply

      Thanks for speaking here, I do want to hear. From my own kids, but also from you and others like you. I don’t want to shut out the pain my kids might talk about, even if it hurts. They need to be heard. You need to be heard, thank you.

  45. Martha Paxson March 17, 2013 at 2:49 am - Reply

    I was born in West Africa and lived there for about 15 of the first 20 years of my life. I would not trade the experiences I had and the lessons I have learned for ANY other life! It has made me appreciate so many things. I have friends around the world. My kids and I hosted 15 exchange students over 8-9 years because of my experience in another culture. My parents were missionaries who both grew up in parts of Africa before meeting one another, marrying, and carrying on the tradition of serving God in another country and culture.

    Not everyone has a positive experience, but I did. Thank God for a full life, many blessings, MANY signs of God’s hand in the world and my life, and the lessons I have learned through it all.

  46. […] 15 Things I Want to Tell My Third Culture Kids – My husband grew up with several chunks of his life as a “Third Culture Kid,” and I hope that at some point my children will also have that experience. I know I have friends in this situation, or those who will be. May this encourage. […]

  47. Alyssa March 18, 2013 at 10:48 am - Reply

    Thank you so much! My friend forwarded this post to me, as she said, “For so many reasons.” Cried as I read your words. Raising two TCK’s in all it’s mess and glory. Thanks for speaking to my heart.

  48. Faith Arnold Brokopp March 18, 2013 at 12:41 pm - Reply

    I am TCK, the mother of four TCK, the grandmother of two TCK. I have wept as I read this as the above is all so true. And as a mother and grandmother. I have labored over my children and now grandkids dealing with many of these hard things–I think that has been the hardest for me because I fully understood from where they were coming. Yet in it all, I know that Jesus was somewhat a TCK–He left the perfect heaven and His Father to come to a mean, imperfect world. So I know HE understands it all and will be there for each one of my TCKs. And so I can leave it with HIM.

    • Rachel Pieh Jones March 18, 2013 at 3:03 pm - Reply

      What a precious way to connect with and relate to Jesus, isn’t it? I’m glad you brought this up.

  49. Martha Hertslet March 18, 2013 at 12:58 pm - Reply

    Hi Rachel,

    I’m a MK/TCK from missionary parents in Southern Africa and you also had me in tears by #2. I remember what it was like for me and my sisters. I’m 39yrs now, married and have 2 kids in Swaziland. I’ve come to terms with being a TCK and all the advantages & disadvantages (not many) it brings. But now I find myself a bit “sad” for my kids, that they are growing up without that experience that I had. They are sortof TCKs, but in a way this is the only culture they’ve ever been exposed to, so they haven’t done the traveling that I had, they have been to the SAME primary school all along and with their cousins and grandparents in the vicinity. So now I worry that they are not growing up with adequate life experience as I had to. Anyone else in the same boat as me???

    • Rachel Pieh Jones March 18, 2013 at 3:07 pm - Reply

      Martha, this is such an insightful comment. I remember talking once with a friend who was raised in Japan and is now raising her five children in suburban Minneapolis (which is where I was raised). I was envying her children and her mothering in an environment that felt like something I knew and understood. Her comment? She said, “Rachel, I envy you and your kids the experiences they are having as TCKs, which is what I knew. I don’t know how to do this MN thing.” That has stuck with me and the covnersation was years ago. I guess we naturally want to give our kids what we had, at least if we had a positive experience.

    • Mary J. March 25, 2013 at 3:51 am - Reply

      Rachel, I so resonate with your comments. I LOVED my childhood though it wasn’t easy. But now that I am raising my children without those experiences, I find myself grieving it for them because it was beautiful and amazing and I wouldn’t change it for the world.

  50. Tracey Dixon March 18, 2013 at 2:16 pm - Reply

    A friend of mine posted this, and I’m going to repost it on my FB. 🙂 I’m also from MN, but raising TCKs in Costa Rica. Though the specifics would be different if I wrote a similar post, the feelings and reflections would be the same! Thank you!

  51. Jessica March 18, 2013 at 3:48 pm - Reply

    I grew up as a TCK in China and despite some of the downsides and the countless friends I had to say goodbye to, I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything. Without China I would never have met my Canadian fiancé or been able to experience all the things that make me who I am. I am so thankful for all of my experiences and now I love living over seas so much I might possibly never live in America. 🙂

  52. […] 15 Things I want to Tell my Third Culture Kids […]

  53. Marcy Dorsch March 18, 2013 at 7:25 pm - Reply

    Rachel, I sent our TCK kids your post and one of our daughters wrote this blogpost in return. God has been so faithful.

    Sorry, I don’t think I know how to do a direct link…Hope you can find it.

  54. Marcy Dorsch March 18, 2013 at 7:25 pm - Reply

    Rachel, I sent our grown TCK kids your post and one of our daughters wrote this blogpost in return. God has been so faithful.

    Sorry, I don’t think I know how to do a direct link…Hope you can find it.

    • Rachel Pieh Jones March 19, 2013 at 3:57 am - Reply

      Yes, I found it, thank you. I continue to get teary as I read these comments and this post was so beautiful.

  55. Cyndi March 18, 2013 at 7:34 pm - Reply

    I am the mother of four TCK’s. My oldest is in the US, studying in Indiana, and in the fall his two sisters will join him. We’ve been on the field for 9+ years, and during that time, we either wouldn’t trade it for the world, or we couldn’t get out of here fast enough. It just depends on the day. 🙂 When my oldest son graduated from high school in 2010, he couldn’t wait to get back to the US, where things “made sense.” Two weeks later, he was sobbing into the phone because he wanted to come back to Ecuador…where things “made sense!” He will now tell you that he wouldn’t change his growing up for anything–the good and the bad. His sisters are at the “get me out of here” stage, but we expect that they too will want to come “home” after a bit.

    My children have had life experiences that I couldn’t even imagine. I went to a suburban high school. I never knew a single person whose first language wasn’t English. My kids go to a school where there are 29 countries represented. They’ve spent their spring break traveling five hours up the Amazon river in a dugout canoe piloted by a 12 year old kid…to tell little kids about Jesus. They’ve never missed school because of snow, but they know what it feels like to be evacuated because of a coup.

    Choosing this life for them wasn’t easy, but we wouldn’t change it for the world.

    • Rachel Pieh Jones March 19, 2013 at 3:59 am - Reply

      We have those days too – I never want to leave! and then If I don’t leave now I might scream! Thanks for sharing about how your kids feel that and share it with you and about the uniqueness of their lives. There isn’t always a place to tell those incredible TCK stories, is there?

  56. Beth March 18, 2013 at 10:10 pm - Reply

    As a TCK, parent of TCKs and grandparent of TCKs, I really appreciate – and understand – so much of what they (we!) go through! But yes! It’s totally, totally worth it all! I wouldn’t change anything from my life (except maybe that bully Valentin, in my grade school!)

  57. Diane Sarratt March 19, 2013 at 12:25 am - Reply

    Rachel, I am a grandparent of 2 TCKs and the mother of 1 TCK (he was one before we knew what a TCK was). I am so blessed and amazed at how the kids and parents have grown during this part of their lives. They have indeed experienced things most kids don’t even think of, much less get to do. They have friends all over the world and are so outgoing. They are great kids:)

  58. Gigi March 19, 2013 at 11:08 am - Reply

    Thank you for giving a voice to so many of our emotions, struggles, guilt and also great joys. I have always prayed that Jesus would cover my mistakes and redeem our time on the field for His purposes. Thank you again.

  59. Robert-Jan Lacombe March 19, 2013 at 6:52 pm - Reply

    Thanks for sharing that:
    I thought I’d share a short film I did about being TCK :

    Kwa Heri Mandima ( Good Bye Mandima) 2010, 11min.

    • Rachel Pieh Jones March 19, 2013 at 11:09 pm - Reply

      Thanks for the link! I’m marking it to watch this afternoon. Lovely!

  60. […] 15 things I want to tell my third culture kids – ‘I am thrilled for the things this life has given you. Adventure and a wide-cracked-open worldview. The opportunity to trust God when nothing around makes sense or when everything around makes sense. Friends all over the world of diverse faith and languages and skin colors and food preferences and economic levels. Multiple language fluency. Creativity and the intrinsic ability to look outside the box, to see from another person’s perspective. Real gratitude, stemming from an understanding that things are fleeting, gratitude for relationships and for time spent in togetherness. Adaptability. Courage. Courage. Courage.’ […]

  61. Lolly March 20, 2013 at 3:34 pm - Reply

    As the mother of missionaries, and grandmother of their three boys, I carry a peculiar sadness and a profound pride always side by side in my heart! It’s good to see they are not alone….we are not alone….

    • Rachel Pieh Jones March 25, 2013 at 5:55 am - Reply

      I love these words: “a peculiar sadness and a profound pride always side by side.”

  62. […] who blogs at Djibouti Jones, wrote a post called 15 Things I Want to Tell My Third Culture Kids. The post is a tear jerker (and so, so sweet), but this has got to be one of my all-time favorite […]

  63. K Mayfield March 22, 2013 at 12:17 pm - Reply

    Stumbled across this, and definitely cried, as a TCK and as a parent of a sort-of TCK. I’m glad you communicate these things to your kids, we TCKs really need it!

  64. Lynne March 24, 2013 at 9:32 am - Reply

    I guess I’m ahead of the game, didn’t start crying til #3! My kids are still small and one seems to take changes really, really hard so I worry and feel guilty constantly about this life and how it will affect her. Then I hear her speak the local language like a native and I know she’s been given gifts I can never open, and hope that she will come to appreciate her childhood even if only in retrospect. Thank you so much for writing this.

  65. bfiles March 24, 2013 at 7:47 pm - Reply

    Oh, this is beautiful. Thank you.

  66. Wendy March 25, 2013 at 6:07 am - Reply

    Though, cried through most of the post, it was just what I needed this morning. I’m not a TCK, but raising TCK for the past 9 years and lived overseas for 14 years now. ‘Home’ to us is mostly when/where we are all together. Our situation with schooling the kids has been in transition the last year. They were attending an international Christian school, then we had a teacher, and now I will begin homeschooling. I’m sure I’ll make loads of mistakes, but I believe I will appreciate my kids uniqueness as TCK more than anyone I know. I also believe God’s grace will cover my shortcomings. Thanks for sharing. Look forward to reading more of you posts … once the tears stop flowing!

  67. Delana Stewart March 25, 2013 at 6:12 pm - Reply

    Beautifully said! I will share this with my TCK children and my friends who are raising TCKs. I will also add your post to this article: http://theeducationcafe.wordpress.com/2011/06/29/third-culture-kids/. Blessings,

  68. […] Other great posts for and about TCKs are: Things I Want to tell my Third Culture Kids […]

  69. Phoebe March 26, 2013 at 4:28 am - Reply

    This also had me in tears. I’m American and my husband is British and we started our married life in East Africa. Our first daughter wasn’t quite 2 when we moved back to the States, but she still tells people she is from Rwanda when asked. She had been on 60 flights by her first birthday and I used to say that when she finally had a choice about how she was going to live, she’d either be a hermit or an explorer.

    Your question, “what do you want your kids to know?” reminded me of some of the most difficult transitional days when she was jetlagged and confused and struggling. I would rock her while she cried, and tell her, “I’m sorry this is so hard. But God knew who he was giving you to and how crazy our life is, so evidently he thought you could handle it. So I think we’re going to be okay.” Though she is still young, I am already amazed at how her transcontinental life is shaping her in beautiful ways.

    Sorry this is long, but all that is to say, thank you for dealing with the dichotomy of TCK life and for putting into words things I have thought about often.

    • Rachel Pieh Jones March 26, 2013 at 6:25 am - Reply

      “God knew.” That’s the foundational thing, isn’t it? Thanks for sharing about your daughter, I love that she is ‘from Rwanda.’

  70. Vicel March 26, 2013 at 5:47 am - Reply

    Thank you.

    I have two TCK’s. my daughter is 2 years and 8 months old and my son is 5 months old. I have always wondered if The lifestyle that my husband and I chose is the right one for my children. I have always wondered if we are forever ruining them or if we are being selfish as parents.

    Your words are beautiful…. and comforting. Somehow you’ve given me hope that my children will be ok, in fact they will be great. Hope that my children, despite the difficulties, will become part of a growing community of individuals who see the world as their village, with broader perspectives and bigger hearts.

    Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

    • Rachel Pieh Jones March 26, 2013 at 6:27 am - Reply

      Thank you, Vicel. I’ve had a teary week myself, with my two older kids home from boarding school. I am as blessed by this stream of comments as everyone commenting on the post.

  71. Heidi Jo March 26, 2013 at 10:38 pm - Reply

    Raw and beautifully written from the heart. Thank you.

    When we became missionaries, we left two young adult children behind and our high schooler came with us. Because our daughter believed she was called to missions like her parents, she adapted well and enjoyed her three years in a foreign country.

    But that doesn’t mean there were not tears of loneliness and feeling the void of siblings and grandparents. She was an active student at her American school and church. In the new country, she began “computer school” in our foreign house and the local churches did not have a youth group for her age. She laughed and cried during her new life as a teenager in a foreign country and never did she whine or complain. We are so proud of her.

    Your descriptions are TCK perfect! Some of the descriptive words you used to describe your children were unique, courageous, beautiful, creative, adaptable, grateful, complicated and deep. Beautiful words to give to your children.

    Today, our daughter attends college in America. She is outwardly beautiful, unique as she shares her passion of missions to those who have not met her Lord yet, courageous as she lives in her own state without other family members, adapting to a new life, grateful for her time across the ocean, and is creative and deep as she works with the youth in her church.

    My favorite part about her is that she is a complicated young woman! She is confident, honest and friendly. She boldly shares about Jesus. She has been to more countries around the world than the number of cities some of her American friends have been to in the USA. And yet within a moment, she can feel insecure because she didn’t have her driver’s license until she was 20 years old or doesn’t know where home is because her parents live across the ocean and her older brothers live in different states. She is wonderfully complicatedly made! 🙂

    Three years as a missionary kid and then two years in Master’s Commission in another country. She has a worldview of life. She has a compassionate heart and wants to see others accept Jesus. Her dad, brothers, grandparents and I are very proud of her.

    Our college TCKs may have more obstacles to overcome but they gifted with courage and humor. And God will never leave their side.

    Thanks for letting me “brag”. 🙂

    God Bless you and your family.
    I will pray for your courageous children that have been chosen by God!

    • Rachel Pieh Jones March 27, 2013 at 4:20 am - Reply

      Love the bragging!

  72. Jen Smart March 27, 2013 at 7:59 am - Reply

    wow, LOVED reading this. I am a TCK and raised 3 of my own. Lots of helpful comments and thoughts here thank you all!! I didn’t know the term TCK till about 10 years ago and it was AMAZINGLY wonderful for me to suddenly “belong” to a group of anybody!

    I see here that everyone seems to be handling it better than I, I still grieve for much, and don’t know how to reconcile so much of the loss and pain, and how cruel people can be without knowing it…. I think that not having supportive parents was what made my story somewhat different?? I was never told till the last minute before a move and no one talked about the hardships, we were just told to “suck it up” and get on with it, and in many ways my parents made us more different than we needed to be which added to the problem. We don’t need to “fit in” to be a part of the world, but it is unhelpful to be even more different because of their own fears.

    I have come full circle and am back in the country I was born in, and for the first time since I was 10 years old (I am now 45) everything on my immigration forms match!! For the first time my place of birth, citizenship, and country of residence, are the same place!! It is the strangest joy to feel each time I travel (we travel a lot). But I don’t “belong” here either, my accent is wrong, my skin colour is wrong, and I have been away too long… And I think that I am even more “alone” because I am not a PK or an MK and we are not Pastors or missionaries either. We work in the secular world, but God sends us to people and places where He needs us. So we don’t “fit” into the typical TCK world in that sense either (and we are not military or consulate either). Tho our friends all fit into those 4 categories… but we are the odd ones out 🙁

    I used to worry so for what I was doing to my children but could not bring myself to disobey God with each move/change. So far they have blossomed, they are in the process of launching, but not only do they live in 3 different countries (or one is about to), but they cover the 3 large land masses they are so spread apart, (Americas, Australasia, and Africa/Europe) and are in spread north and south so far as well (two in the northern hemisphere and 1 plus us in the southern) and when the baby moves in 2 months time when he gets married and launches into his own new city where none of us have lived, to work as an associate pastor with his brand new wife, he will be as far away from his brother whom he has shared a room with every night till his wedding, as you can possibly get 🙁 If you stuck a pin through the globe where one is, exactly through, you will land up at the other. The middle son is with us here, also becoming a pastor. They have had NO grandparents, cousins, Aunts & Uncles, have had to say goodbye to all their friends, and start afresh more times than is fair for a child. The oldest went to 7 schools (the youngest 5), they missed out on organized sport and music and so on, despite being so talented and gifted. But they are thriving mostly and been blessed and at this point in their lives would not have had it any other way. One struggles more than he will admit and I worry for him immensely, my husband has loved it all, but I have not coped with my own growing up and the loss of soooo much.

    Does any of you belong to a group of “old” (45) TCKs that I can join online?? Or even better, anyone live in Joburg???

    • Rachel Pieh Jones March 27, 2013 at 11:23 am - Reply

      Jen thank you so much for sharing this. It is important to hear all experiences and I’m grateful for your honesty. I know it isn’t easy and that not all TCKs have had a positive experience and your input is so valuable in that regard. It seems like you have learned from your experiences though, and are able to help your kids. I hope you are able to process through some of your past experiences and maybe find a group to connect with. I don’t know of any TCK groups like that and don’t live in Joburg! But maybe look at some of the sites I linked to in a more recent post, not sure what you’ll find. I’m trying to think of books that might be interesting too – I love reading about others’ expat experiences. One that comes to mind is Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight by Alexandra Fuller. Totally different from my experiences, but fascinating and painful and honest.

      I especially appreciate your words here about the different groupings of expats and about how that affected you – the government or military or faith-based or NGO or secular groups. That is something I want to think more about – the wide variety of experiences within the TCK life.

      • Jen Smart March 27, 2013 at 5:17 pm - Reply

        wow, thanks soo much for responding, I LOVE the idea of reading about other’s experiences as TCKs, as I feel such a bond with them, so I will start with your suggestions, thank you :). I think that the different “groups” of TCKs have unique experiences that the others don’t share, and much in common with each other, so I guess being none of them makes us a sub groups of a sub group LOL. But I am loving reading other responses too, such kindred spirits, and there is no doubt my expat friends are those who understand me the best and vice versa. I am soooo thankful for them and would travel half way around the world if I could, just to cry on their shoulder or have them cry on mine, as we each “get it”. I am also sooo thankful that at least 2 of my sons would not change their experiences for anything and and blown away that they pray that they get to make TCKs of their own 🙂 so it can’t be all bad!! 🙂 I think that family support is everything, and can make the world of difference, and the “bad” stuff for TCKs could be exchanged for ANY “bad” stuff in anyone else’s lives, so I don’t think that we do too badly. When all is said and done and if the world was evened out to “fair” we would go down a good few notches not the other way around!! I think we are more blessed than most 🙂

    • A corresponder April 5, 2013 at 5:47 pm - Reply

      There is a website for adult TCKs at http://www.tckid.com. I’m not sure how active it is, but it might be worth looking into.

  73. Carpool Queen March 27, 2013 at 3:03 pm - Reply

    My missionary mom sent this to me. I’m crying in a waiting room as I read it and type this response. Thank you for acknowledging and giving voice to me.

    I would not trade my TCK status for anything. Period. It has come, though, with a price that at times is hard to pay. I’m 43 and I still feel weird and as though I can’t relate to many of my peers. But God is gracious and the fullness of life that I experience because of my history gives riches beyond compare.

    • Rachel Pieh Jones March 27, 2013 at 5:29 pm - Reply

      I’m glad you mentioned the price. It IS hard. Not ten minutes ago, I was crying with a friend as we process our experiences of having kids at boarding school. Riches beyond compare, and unique pain too.

    • Sara Campbell March 27, 2013 at 6:38 pm - Reply

      I had to scroll down far enough to see if CarpoolQueen commented, since I found this post through her. First, I just want to say that when I went off to college and knew no one, CPQ was a friend to me. I was so entralled by her… a senior being nice to me, a freshman. I didn’t know she was a TCK at that time, but I knew she was different. And that she was special. She still is. And little did I know then that I would give birth to 5 children overseas one day…all TCK’s. This post touched me so much. Without a doubt, the goodbyes every year kill us the most. But God is so gracious, and He compensates in so many ways. Just the other day my kids were telling me that one summer their Uncle realized they’d never been to Dairy Queen, and didn’t even know what it was. He slammed on the breaks, turned the car around, and said, “Your Uncle is taking you to DQ!!!” I laugh when I think about it. I plan to send this post to my kids (3 Singapore girls and my 2 little Turks). I appreciate your writing this so much! -Sara in Turkey

  74. Kathy Carpool Queen's "Cousin" March 27, 2013 at 5:32 pm - Reply

    I too still feel “weird” in this world. It is amazing to see the number of TCK that have posted on this site. We certainly are not alone in our “weirdness”.
    I would not trade any of my childhood as a child of missionaries. There was some bad, that happens in EVERY culture, but overwhelmingly good. I have been asked many times what it is like to be a TCK. I will never really have an answer for that because in is my normal.
    I know I did not have the traditional connection with my aunts and uncles or my grandparents, but my missionary family was just as real as my “blood” family. I consider the “Carpool Queen” to be my little sister in many ways, and my cousin in just about every way. I still call her parents my aunt and uncle. Her family is also mine. I couldn’t love them any more. I have family…I could call on any of the missionaries in our denomination and know that they would all move heaven and earth to help me in whatever I need.
    I am now a special education teacher. The richness of my childhood allows me to veiw the children through a very different “filter”. I relate with them when they complain about not fitting in. I am able to assess and respect the cultures of their homes very quickly, which allows me to teach them more efficiently. I will never fit into a neat little box, nor do I wish I could. I am “messy” culturally. I would be lying if I said I never had a crisis of self. That crisis made me who I am today. I am a member of the body of Christ. I am not weird there. 🙂
    I will never truly understand the sacrifice that my parents made when they left the safety of the culture in which they grew up. My upbringing was not a sacrifice in any way to me. My life is blessed and enriched through my parent’s willingness to follow God’s calling.
    Thanks for sharing this website with me Carpool Queen. I love you like a sister.

    • Rachel Pieh Jones March 28, 2013 at 5:18 am - Reply

      Love the connection I can see between you and Carpool Queen and with Sara too. That is so beautiful to me, as I sit this side of grown-up kids and pray for them to love their friends and family here and in the US both now and into their adult lives. It is encouraging to see you still connecting and to see how powerful that is. I also love what you said about not being weird in the body of Christ and about not knowing your parent’s sacrifice. Here’s another link to something about that:http://www.alifeoverseas.com/why-i-will-not-say-i-never-made-a-sacrifice/

      Thanks for sharing, I really appreciate hearing it.

  75. Andrea Shields March 27, 2013 at 11:37 pm - Reply

    Thank you for your honest heart. My children will officially become TCK’s in August, and I am already amazed at how God has knit them together uniquely for this journey. I just assumed I was biased about them, but I guess not. Amazing how a heart can swell with grief and pride, all at once. I’ll be following your journey!

  76. Kelli March 28, 2013 at 10:10 am - Reply

    Amazingly beautiful post! Crying!!! Thank you- will be sharing this with my girls tonight. I’m married to a TCK and raising 4 of my own. Love this so much. Emotions run deep in this line of work for sure but I am super thankful that my girls are learning to laugh harder and maybe more often than I would like cry harder because of it and I know they definitely know how to love deeper. So thankful you chose to share this! Here’s a link to a light hearted post I did about my TCKs… http://pinklaundry-kelli.blogspot.com/2012/11/things-only-tck-third-culture-kid-would.html

  77. Linda Santmyire March 28, 2013 at 11:07 am - Reply

    My hear was touched to the core by your honesty? Our son and his family are missionaries….our two firstborn grandchildren have lived out of or reach more than within. Our heart aches for the days and events we will never share with them. Yet or thanks to God is ferverent that they live and thrive within His perfect will for their lives! We are proud of their accomplishments and the wonderful people our son, daughter in love and grandchildren are and will continue to become! As I read your post and as I write this comment a very old song came to my mind…… “It will be worth it all when we see Jesus, life’s trials will seem so small when we see Him. One glimpse of His dear face all sorrow will erase. It will be worth it all whe we see Christ! And then I am at peace knowing
    Eternity is coming and we will have the most awesome event imagine able to share in His presence!

  78. Corinna McMurray March 28, 2013 at 12:45 pm - Reply

    Very well expressed. I was sent this by another TCK. If you had asked me between the ages of 10 and 14 about my TCK experience, I think I would have had some pretty negative descriptions of my transitions across oceans, leaving friends who had been my family, and trying to fit into a culture where I looked like I should fit in but which was so foreign to me. Looking back, I wouldn’t trade even these years for the world. God has been faithful and constant.

  79. Olivia March 28, 2013 at 6:35 pm - Reply

    I’m a TCK who just recently moved back to the US for university. I loved reading this because I know it is how my mother felt, and still feels about her 5 children being in the US while she’s half way across world. In response to number 6, I think I can safely response for your children. “It wasn’t always easy, and there were many moments that the best option seemed to be return to the US because life in a foreign country is is never easy. But I’m glad you stuck with it, because those were the best moments of my life, and wouldn’t change those experiences for the world. Thank you.”

  80. Belinda Hutcheson March 28, 2013 at 8:21 pm - Reply

    I am 43 years old now living in the US, raising three
    kids completely in the American culture. I am an TCK, born and raised in Brazil. You have put to words so many truths
    About TCK. So much of what u said reminded me of
    Many moments in my young years and less often now
    But even things I experience now!

    Please know …. There were many hard times but I would
    Not change my upbringing for the world!!!
    I have so much to offer my kids because of my
    Thank you for sharing this article

  81. NL March 28, 2013 at 10:29 pm - Reply

    Hi, I loved your article….I also am a TCK, married a ‘native’ of Ecuador (looks like a few of us here were there!) We moved to the US and raised a family while working with Hispanics in the Texas Panhandle. Wow, I found out quick that while I had grown up in a Hispanic country, this was a whole new culture to adapt to, and not only the hispanic culture, but the Anglo culture was so different than what I knew from my homeplace. I know my kids also had a lot of struggles as have I, but I think we’ve made the best of it! God has given us grace in abundance!

  82. Debbie March 29, 2013 at 2:21 am - Reply

    I am the mother of 4 awesome TCKs. They are all adults now and live in different places here in the US. Your article hit a very soft spot in my heart. We work hard at staying connected,love our times together but hate airports and goodbyes. Thanks you for speaking for all of us mothers of incredible TCKs.

  83. Bev March 29, 2013 at 10:16 am - Reply

    Thanks for this beautiful post, sent to me by my mother, the grandma of my 3 young adult TCKs. I am often struck in life by the way joy and sorrow often walk hand-in-hand . . . perhaps nowhere more evident than in the lives of our kids! Such strong, amazing, wonderful, life-changing, wouldn’t-trade-it-for-the-world experiences and friends, right alongside with gut-wrenching loss, tears, fears, non-belonging and more.

    God gave me a wonderful assurance when I was a young mom of 2 toddlers and an infant and we were about to leave for the field. I was reading in Numbers (not a book from which I typically derive deep devotional inspiration!), the story of the spies going to the Promised Land. When the people refused the report of the 2 good spies, they claimed it was for the good (safety) of their “wives and children.” But God saw past their pretenses, punished their lack of trust and who was it, 40 years later that got to go to the Promised Land? The very children whose parents worried for their safety. God convicted me at that time that whatever He called me to, I was to obey and trust Him, He had not forgotten in the calling that I was the mother of 3 beautiful children. He had their well-being close to His heart. That has helped me many times move forward through the questions, the illnesses, the doubts, the moments when I feel like I have lost too much in my kids’ lives while they were off at boarding school.

    Today my children are thriving young adults, loving God and serving Him in their own places and ways. We have recently returned to the field alone (for the first time) — somewhat odd — but so pleased to see them continue to grow and mature. This summer our family of five will be spread out on 4 different continents: a son beginning grad studies in the US, another son doing an outdoor camp internship in Australia and our daughter, who will be married in less than 3 months, will be flying to Indonesia with her husband where he teaches at an MK school. And we parents in Europe. That’s what we get for raising TCKs — joy and sorrow, walking hand-in-hand! So proud of them and definitely passing this link along to them and others!

  84. Rex March 29, 2013 at 12:13 pm - Reply

    I appreciate and concur with your words, as my kids struggle and excel at the same time in their passport country, from which 2 of 3 did not attend school there until college. The maturity gained, the experiences shared and fun they have experienced as being one of many cultures is an experience they will cherish their entire lives. It is a shame that they cannot talk openly to many of their USA acquaintances without those thinking that they are bragging, and happy to know that they still stay connected with their true peers through social media.
    Thanks for sharing, and after 16 years abroad, I wonder at the shock my wife and I will experience when we eventually re-enter a country that we spend only weeks a year in to let folks know we are still alive!

  85. JessyW March 29, 2013 at 8:15 pm - Reply

    Thanks so much for your post. I am a tck, and raising 2 lovely TCKs. We have lived in South Korea and Venezuela, and are getting ready to move to Kenya this summer. The international community is VZ is small, and we don’t often come in contact with families who are in our situation, so it is such a blessing to be reminded that we are not alone, and to be reminded of the many amazing experiences our girls are having. They are still in elementary school, but they are growing up to be beautiful, confident, outgoing and compassionate young ladies. Thank you for sharing.

  86. jean claude April 2, 2013 at 1:46 am - Reply

    Thank you for the post .I am a TCK as well,I remember those moments of being a stranger in my country,and finally in every country,but one thing I know TCK’S are indeed the best you can offer to your kid,the beauty of travelling and discovering other cultures and to be able to adapt and to accept the others the way they are,and to be content of their style of living,and realize that there is no boundaries anymore .My country is the world because in any country as bad and poor it can be you will always learn something you did not know and you are that kid who can get along with the rich,the poor,the african,the chinese etc. you are that kid who speaks multiple languages etc.you are open minded,Being a TCK is priceless you are above stereotypes and man made philosophies and concept because you lived them.This is how much I love my TCK experience and if it was just up to me I will turn the world TCK’s.

  87. […] few weeks ago I was reading through Facebook and found a link to an article called 15 Things I Want To Tell My Third Culture Kids.  Naturally, it made me start thinking about what I would tell our kids as we don’t really […]

  88. Gerald April 2, 2013 at 8:28 pm - Reply

    We leave for the field in two weeks and I cried my eyes out while reading this post…and I am the Daddy! I am so thankful for this journey Gd has put us on and I am just as scared about the journey. I too am not a TCK and no one in my family is in full time ministry. My kids are trail blazers like yours and the simple fact that although they dont know each other they share that BOND! I am insecure about what they will experience but I am secure in the fact that our Fthr has led, guided and will continue to do both as we move closer to our new home! Thank you so much for posting such an intimate conversation for your TCK’s and for us parents!

    • Rachel Pieh Jones April 3, 2013 at 4:30 am - Reply

      Gerald, blessings as you go out. Amen – secure in how you are being led and that God has your best, and their best, in his plan.

  89. Laura Duke April 4, 2013 at 4:36 pm - Reply

    A friend of mine just posted this on FB and tagged me in it, so I had to read it. We are missionaries in South America and I have 3 beautiful TCKs. I, like most of your readers, was tearing up by #2. My husband and I are always talking about how lucky our kids are to experience the things they get to, but other times, as a mom, those doubts and anxieties pop up and I wonder will they ever completely fit in in one culture? God is in control and He has a perfect plan for them and I can’t wait to see the adults they will become. Thank you for this beautiful post!

  90. Clem Edwars April 4, 2013 at 5:59 pm - Reply

    I’m the dad of 4 TCKs. We have lived in the Mid. East, 3 countries in Latin America, and we’re now looking at moving, once again, to the Mid. East. What you wrote resonated with me so much; I cried, because I know exactly what you’re talking about. And, I couldn’t be more proud of my kids than I am right now. We want to give them everything we had when we were growing up, but we can’t; and they just roll with it and never complain. To them, it’s just another adventure to be experienced. Thanks for writing this. I needed it…
    F. Clement Edwards, Jr.
    Sao Paulo, Brazil (for now)

  91. Kruse Zoo April 4, 2013 at 8:52 pm - Reply

    Great post, I posted a teaser of it at our family blog: http://kruzoo.blogspot.com/2013/04/15thingstotellyourFAOchildrenfromdjiboutijones.parentingadvice.html

    Thanks so much for writing this!

    • Rachel Pieh Jones April 5, 2013 at 4:44 pm - Reply

      Thanks for linking to it!

  92. Megan S. April 5, 2013 at 12:22 am - Reply

    Thanks for sharing this- I felt like it was my mom talking to me. My mom grew up in the states but moved to SE Asia when she married eleven years ago. It meant a lot to hear you say those things. Sometimes I feel like my mom doesn’t understand all of the culture shock and transitions I experienced growing up. But it doesn’t mean that she cares any less about me. I really appreciate that you took the time to say this.

    • Rachel Pieh Jones April 5, 2013 at 4:41 pm - Reply

      It is hard to relate to some of the things my kids experience and it takes a lot listening and sensitivity. Thanks for your honesty, and I’m glad you can see her love for you anyway. That helps me when I feel pretty clueless with my own kids!

  93. Kristen Percival April 5, 2013 at 11:43 am - Reply

    I am a TCK and I am raising 3 TCK kids. What is so awesome about being a TCK is the fact that your idenity is in Christ and He is your home. I tell folks that we are Californian but really I am the only one from there (my husband in a Oregonian transplant to CA). My kids have only been in the United States for a total of 1 year.
    We find with each move that we rely more and more on Christ. I bought a large sign of Joshua 1:9. It is hanging on our wall to remind us that God has asked us to “Be strong and courageous, have no fear and do not be troubled, For te Lord your God will be with you wherever you go”.
    We are complete in Him and starting life over and over again in new places reminds us of that. I am thankful that moving has taught us to hold onto Him the tightest for that can not be taken away.

    • Rachel Pieh Jones April 5, 2013 at 4:41 pm - Reply

      What a beautiful and practical way to remind your family of ultimate truths. Thanks for sharing.

  94. Cassie April 5, 2013 at 2:22 pm - Reply

    Oh wow, I’m sitting here with tears in my eyes as I think of my own children 3 and 4, who don’t know what to say when people ask them where they are from. You words echo my own heart, and that is all I can say. I am crying too much now to think beyond that.

  95. Melissa M April 5, 2013 at 6:17 pm - Reply

    I am a TCK who gets to serve TCKs for my job. I work a lot of college students who are “back” here without their families. As I read this post, I cried, and cried even more as I read the comments. I would like nothing more than to be able to reach out and give all the TCKs here a big hug.

    Rachel, I love your mother’s heart, and I have a number of “m” friends that I plan on sending this to. I really appreciated how you brought in both the positive and negative- both are so true! My prayers are with you and your family!

    • Rachel Pieh Jones April 5, 2013 at 6:26 pm - Reply

      You must have an amazing job. Thanks for your comment, for sharing it, and for loving TCKs.

  96. Zoe April 5, 2013 at 11:11 pm - Reply

    Like so many, I am grateful for your eloquent words.
    We spent 9 years with 4 kids overseas and they grieved leaving as we did when we left. Now the youngest is 20 yet your comments brought back a flood of memories and tears like it was just yesterday and she was 6 yr/old. One of the kids calls himself a “global nomad” and thankfully found a wife with a similar TCK background and they will roam the globe together. Another son says, “Home is where we all get together”; a lesson learned from prizing those brief school breaks. Like the rest I cried starting at #2 and #4 hurt too. I remember one of my kids feeling embarrassed at a track meet because he was one of the few kids with shoes. Reconciling poverty and wealth has been a challenge for each of them. Mostly I am so thankful for all the amazing family times we had and the amazing people we all met. That makes up for the heart breaking times of saying goodbyes to them and them saying so many goodbyes themselves.

  97. Rebecca April 5, 2013 at 11:53 pm - Reply

    I’m an ATCK (adult TCK) now living my dream to go back overseas and teach in an international school serving other TCKs as well as local kids. My parents (also TCKs) are still on the mission field in Mexico. I am currently serving in Japan.

    Although I experience little if any culture shock coming here, the same cannot be said about my move to the US for college. It took me until my Junior year, when I was emerging from the culture shock to recognize what I had just come through. I am a stronger person because of it.Still, I’ve realized that if I hadn’t been so arrogant as to think I wouldn’t experience it because I “knew it was coming” and “I knew how to adapt” it probably wouldn’t have lasted so long.

    I am now getting ready to move to Venezuela, to continue my current ministry with a different school. Of all the things you wrote, #11 is the one that resonated the most at the moment. Despite this being a move that I have chosen, instead of having it chosen for me, all the goodbyes, the losses, and even the excitement is coming back to me. Already, I can feel my self slowly pulling away from all those except the people I know will be my “forever” friends. I’m grieving now for this beautiful country I may never see again and for the friends that have become such a huge part of my life I will do anything to make sure I do see again. But despite the grief, the one thing being a TCK has taught me is that there is always somewhere new an exciting to explore that can become home and there are always more people out there to meet and to find as new friends.

    On a lighter note…I noticed your “Donate to REI” picture at the bottom. Our family lived in a constant state of “Clearly, we need help.” That sense of humor is one of the greatest gift my parents ever gave me.

  98. Kristina Snavely April 6, 2013 at 2:53 am - Reply

    I am a TCK. It is so good to belong to a community since I cannot belong to a place. Thank you.

  99. Beth Matheson April 6, 2013 at 1:31 pm - Reply

    Rachel, I came across your blog because it is going viral among the TCKs in our large organization. My husband and I are both adult TCKs, and we now serve MKs and their families. We hear your words, your heart, echoed over and over as we talk with parents who are hurting and humbled and amazed. Thank you for expressing so clearly what is on the minds of so many parents of Third Culture Kids.

  100. Stina Marie April 6, 2013 at 3:38 pm - Reply

    Rachel, Thank you so much for posting this. I am the daughter of tcks and I myself am a tck raising a tck. 🙂 I loved every bit of your post. And although I myself am a tck, it is different for each generation of tcks so even though I am one, there will be things my kids go through that I won’t quite understand or won’t have experienced, so I appreciated your thoughts and your openness. 🙂

  101. Danielle Stephenson April 6, 2013 at 11:47 pm - Reply

    I’m a missionary kid and I don’t cry very often, but your post made me cry. =]

  102. Michelle Mundhenk April 7, 2013 at 7:32 pm - Reply

    My daughter just found this post and while I haven’t had time to read all the comments related to it, I want to say thank you. This post says everything I haven’t been able to put into words. Simply change the pins on the map and everything fits. As missionaries for 19 years in Papua New Guinea, we leave America once again in 2 1/2 months, only this time leaving 2 of our 3 TCK’s behind in college. All the sacrifices, all the good-byes, all the memories, all the decisions we made and second guessed ourselves on, all the tears . . . have been worth it. And while it feels like I’ll be leaving part of my heart behind, I can only lead where God follows. I know that He will be with my children even when I can’t be. And that’s enough.

  103. Megan Squire April 8, 2013 at 8:32 am - Reply

    Wow – you have touched so many people. I loved your post and I found it reassuring as we raise our tck’s. My husband is a tck and I am half tck (long story). I am very aware that the life we have chosen will have big significant impacts on our kids. Our 6 year old has amazing depth and understanding for concepts high school students struggle with if they haven’t had the privilege of living in developing countries. the our 3year old is still seemingly oblivious to the differences around him as he blends in with the community and people so well.

    Yet as we observe and watch them develop I have concern that we are not making the best choices for them. your post and the amazing responses from other mums of tck’s and tck’s has encouraged me and reassured me that we are giving them more than what they are missing out on by staying in our home country. thank you for this as it is timely as we plan our next steps

    • Rachel Pieh Jones April 8, 2013 at 7:31 pm - Reply

      Thanks for your comment, I enjoy so much hearing about how people experience this expat life. Somehow there is a connection even though we are spread around the world.

  104. […] Djibouti Jones: The blog of a TCK Mom […]

  105. Sarah Stoner April 10, 2013 at 6:33 am - Reply

    As an “18 year” TCK (Uganda, Morocco, Belgium, Thailand) I didn’t experience grief and sacrifice and similar descriptors I keep finding in the comments. Not *during* my experience. My experience as a TCK just *was* was it was. Likely because no one ever used the word TCK, or spoke about grief and loss and sacrifice. And also maybe because all those things are essential and inseparable to the TCK experience and the TCK child.

    (I didn’t come across that term until much later – and what a relief it was, to find out it wasn’t just me…)

    When I did experience grief beyond words and understanding was upon coming “home.” Rachel, you asked for TCKs to share what they have to say… This is a small part of the story I tell, a five minute capture of what my parents now know about my TCK story: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t8E8CuvI7BU

    • Rachel Pieh Jones April 10, 2013 at 7:23 am - Reply

      Thanks for the link Sarah. I’m bookmarking it to watch this afternoon. And I saw your comment to Marilyn too, I’ll check and make sure she notices it. Thanks for sharing.

  106. Christine Adachi April 10, 2013 at 2:45 pm - Reply

    I read your post via a friend who posted it on FB. I was hesitant in leaving a post here, but felt I needed to respond to your post, since during reading it, I was moved to tears. It touched a part of me that can relate. So, thank you for writing it. I just wanted you to know.

    A bit about my reflection on this…
    Not sure if I am a “technically” TCK, but I am the child of immigrant parents and have never completely felt “at home” in either country, since I traveled back and forth so much between the two. When my peers in the U.S. knew that my parents were actually from a different county and my manner of life wasn’t exactly that of a “typical” American, I automatically became a target for teasing, and wrestled with a slew of other issues and insecurities. But there is a richness and depth that came over time and I realized I have an awareness and perception that some others don’t have.

    I am grateful for it now that I’m older, married also to a man whose parents immigrated. I am now so much more passionate to bring up my children to embrace and befriend ALL people, to learn about and affirm the life of others, and treasure deeply the value and worth all people have ultimately through their Creator.

    • Rachel Pieh Jones April 10, 2013 at 5:32 pm - Reply

      Thanks for commenting, I appreciate your willingness to share. Even though the TCK and immigrant experiences aren’t exactly the same, I am convinced there are a lot of overlaps and areas of similarity. World views, being outsiders, goodbyes, loving people in many places…I think your voice is an important one in this kind of conversation.

  107. Beth Howe April 10, 2013 at 6:40 pm - Reply

    How well your words mirror my thoughts. We are missionaries to Italy, and I remember in the beginning thinking how we were bringing our little ones into a new world, one that we were so unfamiliar with. Our daughter was 5 and within two weeks we put her into the public school where she knew practically nothing in Italian. Our son had just taken his first steps the month before we got to the field. I was afraid for the things that they were missing with which I had grown up. Almost 13 years later, I am overwhelmed by God’s goodness as we embraced our new country knowing it was His will to be here. Our children can speak two languages fluently and are learning others. They have compassion on those around them and are reflections of God’s grace. Wow, to think what they would have missed if we hadn’t obeyed God! Thanks for taking the time to write your heart down on “paper”.

  108. Ginny Phillips April 11, 2013 at 7:07 pm - Reply

    I hesitate to post this, but sometimes the negatives outweigh the positives. I am an adult TCK. Not all of us learned multiple languages fluently, not all of us are able to function well in two or more or any one culture. The lack of stability can cause insecurity. Cross cultural living can be very awkward. Life just is what it is for each of us and we cope with the unique story we’re given, but let’s not claim that being a TCK is a special gift or any better than the gift of stability.

    • Rachel Pieh Jones April 12, 2013 at 6:29 am - Reply

      Thanks for your honesty Ginny, I’m glad you wrote. You’re right, it isn’t always good. I’m hoping to address some of these struggles in the future because I think it is important to see the many facets. Yes, we all have our own stories and each one is valuable and unique.

  109. Vicky April 12, 2013 at 4:13 pm - Reply

    Thank you for giving us insight into your life. My grandmother was raised as a TCK and shared many of her stories with us. I was a short term missionary while in college (to the Marshall Islands) and hope that one day my children will follow in our footsteps. God bless you.

  110. Lyn April 16, 2013 at 3:35 am - Reply

    Enjoyed reading some of the posts. I am a now adult TCK and cannot imagine life any other way. There are good and bad to everything, but I have to say, for myself and my siblings, this is what made us who we are today. There were times we felt left out and misfits in our parent’s culture. We are never completely Canadian, nor were we completely African. I am not attached to things, I can relocate fairly easily, and can adapt quite easily to new situations. My values are different than most of my friends. I regret that my children haven’t had the opportunities to travel and see a great deal of the world like we have had. We got an opportunity to be children and use our own imaginations to entertain ourselves where I see my own children growing up attached to TV or electronic games. Don’t regret that your children are living life as a TCK. Just love them and remind them how much God loves them and that He knows where they are and has a plan for their lives and that He accepts them just as they are.

  111. Caleb Suko April 16, 2013 at 7:32 am - Reply

    Great post! As a parent to 5 MK’s I think you have really touched on a few things that are unique to the life of MK’s. Thanks so much for sharing!

  112. Renee April 18, 2013 at 5:38 am - Reply

    Hi Rachel! You don’t know how much this post was encouraging and at the same time brought tears to my eyes! Let me explain.

    I am a young man (19) in the Philippines. I lived all my life here except for a year in the US. Now I am the youth ministry intern for the international church i grew up going to. Part of the internship is campus ministry. Since most of our youth in our group are MKs, I picked to go to the missionary school our youth go to. I spend a whole lot of time there just being around our youth and I have made the connection with a lot of other kids and some teachers too. With all that time I spent there, I understood what a MK was all about although there will be things that I will never ever understand. I love what I am doing! I knew MKs had their fair share of problems but after reading this, it reminded me again that it’s not always smiles and laughter for them. If anything, their struggles are not what other kids their age are struggling with. I can’t say much about how hard it is for them cause it will not give it justice. With that, all I want to do in my life is minister to MKs, love them just as God loves you and me, walk with them and just plainly being there with them.

    You don’t know how helpful that was especially now that I am praying about what to do next, whether to go to back to school or not etc.

    Thanks for this!

    • Rachel Pieh Jones April 18, 2013 at 6:43 am - Reply

      This is so beautiful to hear, thank you for sharing. I love that you are so invested in learning about the kids and their lives, and open to hearing what it is like for them. I’m sure that communicates to those you work with. Being with them, walking with them, listening to them…your intentionality is wonderful.

  113. Lys Avra April 18, 2013 at 9:03 am - Reply

    I enjoyed this blog immensely. My parents sent it to me; I’m a TCK myself, about to go to college, and sometimes I get really fresurated with how much my parents’ decision to live here has affected me. Homeschooling, living away from America, moving all the time, living where there are no American kids, all of these things set me behind other college students. This blog showed me how much my parents do know, and yet God has chosen this choice for us anyways and He has his reasons. I really appreciated it.

    • Rachel Pieh Jones April 19, 2013 at 3:08 pm - Reply

      Your comment moved me, Lys, because of your honesty. In just a few words I can hear how it wasn’t easy and yet also how you love your parents. Also I’m humbled by how it helps you see your parents differently. It is so hard from both sides! I hope as my kids grow that we’ll be able to keep talking about these things. Blessings as you transition to college shortly.

      • Lys Avra May 14, 2013 at 9:00 am - Reply

        Thanks Rachel, and please keep writing. Your blog is inlightening and I can see the effort you put into it, appreciate your posts very much.

  114. Rachel April 19, 2013 at 8:07 pm - Reply

    Tears started by the end of #5. Thank you for sharing. I’m an adult US citizen TCK (Kenya, Philippines, Bolivia, Israel were my homes). Now 28, married, living in UT I feel like a caged bird… I’m desperately searching for answers and understanding of how to move forward with my life. Thank you for validating aspects of my childhood and my humanity.

  115. […] asked my daughter, Where was home? This is the dreaded, complicated, richly beautiful question Third Culture Kids wrestle with because, for a TCK, the answer might take five minutes. Or it might dredge up buried […]

  116. Jennifer April 23, 2013 at 11:22 am - Reply

    I’m so grateful I just came across this. We just moved abroad and I relate to the tears and pray for the rest.

  117. Kathy April 23, 2013 at 1:01 pm - Reply

    I have raised 2 TCKs and moved around a lot myself as a child, albeit within the USA. So wonderful to have found your amazing words. I have cried many tears for my kids over their pains and struggles. But at the end of the day, it has made them the awesome people they have become. I am so proud of them. It is so refreshing to actually see in print the experiences we have had summed up so nicely and accurately. I hope it helps others to express what they are feeling and going through. It is a a very specific group we belong to and I feel your blog has give us support and a feeling of belonging as well as understanding. All any of us want is to be heard and validated. Thank you!!

  118. Donna Legault April 24, 2013 at 1:15 am - Reply

    I can remember every minute of the day we left the US with our two very young children (8 & 6) to move to the Middle East. I can remember thinking what am I doing? Is this going to ruin their lives? How will they adapt? How will I adapt? I knew I had to be positive about the future we were heading into even though I wasn’t quite sure that we were making the right decision. I remember taking one last look back as we pulled out of my mother’s house and saw her hysterically crying her eyes out like I had never seen before. We had moved many times but this was very very far away from home and at the time a little known place in the world. It was breaking my heart to see what I was doing to my mother.

    We took that leap of faith and spent 12 1/2 wonderful years raising our amazing TCK in a place they both call home. They spent their elementary, middle and high school years traveling the globe and accepting all people, places and cultures with their eyes wide open. They are both amazing adults and we are so very proud of them. My mother even flew 1/2 way around the world 6 times in the time we were there.

    Our oldest has just taken her own leap of faith with her own young family and is now raising my 3 year old granddaughter as a TCK and my life has come full circle. She and I watched each other as I drove away and I now fully understand the heart break my own mother went through when we left with her grandchildren but like my mother, I see nothing but wonderful experiences for my daughter and granddaughter and I now understand this is all just part of God’s plan.

  119. Catherine April 24, 2013 at 6:00 am - Reply

    Well, to echo the above comments I also shed a few tears reading this. As an MK/TCK it’s interesting reading this from a mother’s perspective, and as I read, many points resonated with things my mother has said, particularly numbers 2, 3 and 4. I sometimes didn’t fully understand the impact of number four because what I’ve never had or experienced are things I’ll never miss. For example, my grandmother bemoans that until my 17th birthday, she never got to spend a birthday with me. That had never really bothered me because it wasn’t a custom I had grown up with. It isn’t until now that I’ve lived in the States for a bit do I see another way of life that could have been mine had we not moved, and I better understand what my mom is talking about. However, I wouldn’t exchange my experience for the world! I guess my point is that how much a TCK misses will depend on what their expectations are.
    I also think that in some ways living overseas is way harder for the mom than for the kids. Not only is the mom impacted by external changes that affect her personal being, she is also affected by the changes that affect her children. A mother (from what I’ve seen. I have no claim to experience 🙂 ) loves her kids and with every fiber of her being she wants to see them healthy and happy, and when that is otherwise, then every instinct says to fix the problem. Fixing the problem isn’t always possible. Another thing: mothers remember details, and children either forget or remember generalities. I remember that fourth grade was a really hard year for me, and the teacher wasn’t very nice, but that’s mostly what I remember. My mom on the other hand, remembers what my teacher did and said that wasn’t nice.
    Also, kids are extremely flexible and adaptable, and they have less responsibilities, whereas mothers are still expected to provide meals (right off the bat!), keep house, learn a language and culture, interact with people, be a wife, be a mother, etc.
    All that to say, there are TCK’s out there who do have a hard time, but please don’t assume we’ve all had a hard time.
    And to the mothers: You have a huge job, but God made you specifically for that job and to raise your child. No one else can do it as well as you. May God bless you in your efforts.
    And just a side note on #9 which says “be unique.” An older TCK and I were just laughing about how we half wished our stories weren’t so interesting. I could go on about it, but perhaps not this time. 🙂

    • Catherine April 24, 2013 at 6:07 am - Reply

      A clarification: Mothers AND Fathers play an important. I know I mostly mentioned mothers, but fathers are in there too, definitely vital and important.

  120. […] kids. Someone in my network pointed out a great article by a TCK mom living in Djibouti, entitled 15 Things I Want to Tell My TCKs. That post obviously struck a chord with many TCK parents. I am still coming to grips with the fact […]

  121. Cindi May 6, 2013 at 6:06 pm - Reply

    I too am a TCK,having moved in 1970,the day I turned 9 to The Canary Islands, Malta, Iran and Holland. My Father’s job then took us back to my passport country,Texas U.S.A. It was difficult moving around, always having to say “goodbye” to friends. Going back to the U.S. was even stranger, because your friends hadn’t changed,hadn’t left Texas, much less go somewhere International. I began to feel more at home overseas and felt I “was in the same boat” as all of the “kids” that were at school with me or with my new found friends from that country. I took it for granted that we only saw family in the U.S. once or twice a year. We moved back when I was 17, I later married and remained within two hours of where I was born in Texas and raised my 3 children in 1 small city of about 27,000. Became divorced at the age of 45. Remarried a year later to a Chemical Engineer. He was offered a career move overseas. Oh my, how elated he, having been raised as a Military “Brat” and I, as a TCK WERE to have this oppurtunity!! Now, I’m on the other side of the world as a wife AND, now have 3 grandchildren in the U.S.! Oh my, my emotions of happy / sad, that bring many tears often. I married my husband to live with him, where ever life took us, but not being the “around the corner” Grandma is very difficult to say the least!! I’m SO thankful for Skype and cell phones, that were not available when I was a TCK!!! So, when I moved to Seoul, South Korea in 11/11/2011 I went to the Seoul International Women’s Association. There, I discovered TCK for the first time. I then knew who I was!! I was ecstatic!! My life will continue overseas, as we move to Jubail, Saudi Arabia at the end of 2013 and will be there for 2-3 years.Being an adult TCK is totally awesome, but I do miss those 6,3 & 10 month old grandchildren while I’m being an adult TCK as I love being a hands on Grandma!!! Thanks for sharing your life story Rachel!!

  122. […]      Some while ago, my mom e-mailed my sister and me this link:  http://www.djiboutijones.com/2013/03/1-things-i-want-to-tell-my-third-culture-kids/ […]

  123. […] series will be on the wide-open topic of Third Culture Kids. The title is Painting Pictures, taken from Sara Grove’s song Painting Pictures of Egypt. […]

  124. […] Kids Growing Up Amoung Different Cultures […]

  125. Rolinke Bremer May 29, 2013 at 1:43 pm - Reply

    Thank you so much for your post. I am a missionary in the rich west, working and living with YWAM. And although my husband and I stepped into missions later, we are still parents of two TCK’s, teenagers now. Your post brougt tears in my eyes and in my daughter’s eyes when we read this together. Especially in making and keeping friendships while you have to say goodbye again…and again…and again… I felt her pain and grief and struggles…and am so proud of her and her courage to step into this investment again…and again…and again. Knowing she takes a risk, but not willing to let friendships go. Loyalty becomes a great quality. Both my kids are reacting different, both my kids are indeed the coolest kids in the world. Your post reminded me of what they are going throug and how brave they are!

  126. Jan Quist June 7, 2013 at 3:45 pm - Reply

    I am the Grandma of TCK’s, and while it hasn’t always been easy to miss out on all the years of their births, toddlers, going to school, and their graduations (not watching their school plays, musicals, etc.) I could not be happier to see how they have become wonderful young men (3) and a young gal. The two oldest are living with us now going to college and working. We get to share in their lives and how they want to be used by God. What a blessing it is for us to be able to really get to know these young men and see how God has prepared them for His service. I could go on and on about all the joys we have experienced through the years, there has been many, and they overshadow any feelings of feeling sorry for “us” during their growing up years. Praise by to God, for He is good!!

  127. Alexandra June 10, 2013 at 3:15 am - Reply

    I am so, SO glad to see how much information and awareness about the hardships that come with this – yet rich and beautiful- TCK life circulates nowadays. I hope with all my heart it will help all the next generations of TCKs.

    My parents were very confused throughout the whole expatriation experience our life has been. No one thought this could be anything more than enriching and lucky for me and my sibling. When in the begining of my 20s I went through a deep depresion my mother finally understood with her heart so many things. I just cried a bit myself reading your point 7, because these have been nearly her exact words on so many ocasions, that she has cried so many times on the life they chose for us yet she still wants us to know she wanted the best for us.

    I am so grateful for this unique life experience. I just want all TCK parents to be conscious that this will not be a “normal” and easy education process for their children.They will need elements of stability, more patience, more help on so many levels. Their culture, values, needs, may end up being so different from your own. And this will not be a rejection of the education you gave them, it will be a consequence of the life you chose for them. Accept them for what they grow up to be.

    • Rachel Pieh Jones June 10, 2013 at 5:37 am - Reply

      Thanks Alexandra for this insightful and poignant comment. I appreciate hearing your perspective, especially what you say about their culture/values/needs maybe ending up different but this not being a rejection, rather a consequence. Wise words.

  128. Mary June 12, 2013 at 4:30 pm - Reply

    I have no connection with TCK’s at all but this spoke to me. We have not been able to provide stability for our children, through redundancy and the landlord removing the home from under us. We have had times of plenty and times of acute lack. We have felt failures as parents and as people. This post reminds me of just how much love is what places “home” not location. The Love of God and the love of parents. And many of your comments apply to the smaller circles we have been in – you’d be amazed how many subcultures there are in the UK and that even speaking the same language you can be made to feel an outsider who does not belong and your children feel it even more with the wrong regional accent or turn of phrase, or just too plainly sharing their faith in a secular community.

  129. […] Raising Third Culture Kids […]

  130. Ben June 25, 2013 at 10:25 am - Reply

    Beautifully written. Also tears. I am the husband of a TCA. Is she strong? Unbeleivably strong. After thirty years of marriage and five beautiful daughters, all from the midwest, I have finally come to accept that my wife will never really be happy/satisfied with her life here with her family. There is always somewhere she would rather be, but when she gets there it is not the same as her fantasy. The enviroment she grew up in no longer exists but that does not stop her pining for it while her life HERE passes us by. Was it John Lennon who said,”Life is what happens while we’re making other plans”? While raising TCKs is unavoidable sometimes, and my wife’s story is not the same as “all” TCAs, I have and would do everything in my power to raise my children in the enviroment /culture that I feel is best for THEM not my mission or career. There’s good and bad to everything. Please be aware that the decisions you make now as you raise your children will affect not only them but that person they may marry and ALL of their downline. Much more involved here than just you and your child. Sorry for the cold water but this is real.

    • mallory February 5, 2016 at 3:35 pm - Reply

      I agree with the part about raising your kid in a way that’s best for them, not just the parent’s wants. My parents moved every 2 years. It messed me up in many ways, and I’ve made it clear that if I have kids of my own, they will get to be raised in the same stable home from birth until they move out.

  131. […] Pieh Jones shares 15 things she wants to tell her Third Culture […]

  132. Joanna July 11, 2013 at 9:43 am - Reply

    I’m late reading this post, I saw it bouncing around Facebook awhile ago but from the place I call home I don’t usually have Internet speed to pull up any links. Right now I’m sitting, jet-lagged and awake in the US, and remembered wanting to check out this article. It didn’t disappoint, beautifully written, and truthfully spoken. I try, at times, to write to make sense of my world, and the combination of finding your blog and arriving in the US to suddenly have the realization that I’m actually raising TCKs has awakened me to the train of thought of how to claim this identity for our kids. Something about placing labels on experiences like living overseas has always thrown me, but as I heard my seven year old say yesterday–‘I won’t like going to all of those churches because I will make a friend and then never see her again!’–it began to dawn on me that understanding more about the beauty and brutality of living this kind of life begs some serious thought and willingness to learn from the wisdom of people who have gone before. Thanks for being willing to share your experiences.

  133. Faith July 26, 2013 at 1:36 am - Reply

    I am not sure if my kids would be considered third culture kids. thought we lived for a while in Egypt several times due to me marrying an Egyptian (my children are from my marriage that ended in the death of their father from cancer when they were toddlers). They have lived on a native american reservation (by getting permission from the tribe through a native american friend of ours so we could set up a sober living home though their dad died before we got it set up). And we as a family (kids and I) converted from Christianity to Islam by choice. we are now back in the states though we pinned for Egypt and had to go back to stay for a month to feel whole again. we combine the Egptian culture and American culture into our home to feel comfortable. when people ask my children’s culture they say Egyptian and American, Both I guess. they get mad when kids or teachers do not validate what they know about the country, they feel bad for the people there, and even though biologically their step fathers family is not theirs they see them as theirs. when they draw pictures of themselves it seems it is a mix of the two cultures…they never seems settled in either place though they feel comfortable in both. they have a hard time relating to people here and people there (because their view of the world is different now), and feel most comfortable in our family unit. sometimes I wonder if I did the wrong thing in living in a foreign country, but then I see that they know more about the area then a book could show them (we lived in the area with Egyptians, not in expat areas), and lived our life the same way the Egyptian people lived, including hand washing clothes and getting water from the water truck and propane from the propane truck, everything as if we were no different then the rest of the population. when we go back it is no different then what it was like when we lived there. and when they come to the US (Minnesota) it is as if they never left, but there is a change I see… they are different people different then others here. and even for me I find I see things differently then others who have never lived outside of the US. thank you for the article…is there other articles to access then the ones on this page or other writings to access?

  134. Faith July 26, 2013 at 1:50 am - Reply

    hi, I am not sure if my kids would be considered third culture kids. thought we lived for a while in Egypt several times due to me marrying an Egyptian (my children are from my marriage that ended in the death of their father from cancer when they were toddlers). They have lived on a native american reservation (by getting permission from the tribe through a native american friend of ours so we could set up a sober living home though their dad died before we got it set up). And we as a family (kids and I) converted from Christianity to Islam by choice. we are now back in the states though we pinned for Egypt and had to go back to stay for a month to feel whole again. we combine the Egptian culture and American culture into our home to feel comfortable. when people ask my children’s culture they say Egyptian and American, Both I guess. they get mad when kids or teachers do not validate what they know about the country, they feel bad for the people there, and even though biologically their step fathers family is not theirs they see them as theirs. when they draw pictures of themselves it seems it is a mix of the two cultures…they never seems settled in either place though they feel comfortable in both. they have a hard time relating to people here and people there (because their view of the world is different now), and feel most comfortable in our family unit. sometimes I wonder if I did the wrong thing in living in a foreign country, but then I see that they know more about the area then a book could show them (we lived in the area with Egyptians, not in expat areas), and lived our life the same way the Egyptian people lived, including hand washing clothes and getting water from the water truck and propane from the propane truck, everything as if we were no different then the rest of the population. when we go back it is no different then what it was like when we lived there. and when they come to the US (Minnesota) it is as if they never left, but there is a change I see… they are different people different then others here. and even for me I find I see things differently then others who have never lived outside of the US. thank you for the article…is there other articles to access then the ones on this page or other writings to access?

    • Rachel Pieh Jones July 26, 2013 at 6:19 am - Reply

      Faith, thank you for sharing this. Yes, I think your kids would be considered TCKs for sure. They have lived in multiple places and seem to consider themselves ‘between worlds.’ I’d like to recommend an on-going series here on the blog called Painting Pictures, it is about TCKs and includes some incredibly helpful and insightful pieces. Here is a link to the first one and then if you search Painting Pictures, they will all come up: http://www.djiboutijones.com/2013/05/painting-pictures-who-are-third-culture-kids/

      I’d love to hear more of your journey, you’ve had so many interesting experiences.

  135. Kim August 27, 2013 at 7:13 am - Reply

    I cried a lot reading this. I’m a TCK myself. One of the hardest things I have to deal with and is still not capable of doing is accepting how hard it was to be a TCK. I left so many friends who I still remember vividly. In the beginning, I cried for days by myself because I did not wanted to tell anyone about my sadness. After few more good-byes, I think I got numb. Few days ago, I started writing my college application and started listing things that affected me and made me change as a person. The first thing I wrote in that list was, “being a TCK”. Then I started writing my emotions about how I felt as a TCK. Few minutes later, I couldn’t handle it. I didn’t even realize how much grief and emotions I left hidden inside me. Although I never regret my decision to move around with my parents, being a TCK was always difficult. When your list hit “You have grief. And that is okay”, I knew I had to be honest with myself now. I was always afraid of the judgmental eyes and words that people threw at me, but now I realize that I need to acknowledge my emotions. So, thank you. This list allowed me to see myself as who I am more than what I tried to become.

    • Rachel Pieh Jones August 27, 2013 at 7:19 am - Reply

      Kim, thank you for sharing this. I hope you are able to find someone to help you walk through the grief and the emotions. It probably won’t be easy, but maybe it will be so, so good. I appreciate your honesty, the courage to share here. I believe our past can never be fully abandoned. It is part of us, for better or worse, part of the fabric of our lives. Your past, though in many ways difficult, has also made you the strong person you are today. Blessings as you continue to journey.

    • Marilyn September 24, 2013 at 6:09 pm - Reply

      Hi Kim – I know you wrote this a while ago but I so get the grief piece. You may appreciate this article – actually mostly the comments because most of them speak to your experience. http://communicatingacrossboundariesblog.com/2012/02/07/saudade-a-word-for-the-third-culture-kid/

  136. Janice August 28, 2013 at 7:59 am - Reply

    I found this article when I typed in “I hate being a TCK” I am here after hearing from my parents that I will be moving for the 4th time, just during my four years of high school. I moved around 11 times just during 16 year old life because my parents were both expats and I had to switch back and forth. I lived with both of my parents when I was very young but I hardly remember how that used to feel. When I first moved, I cried the whole time in my 12 hour flight. Of course being a TCK has led me to great opportunities and perspective non like others. But, I have to say I hate the instability. I suffered from manic depression few years ago and that was the only time I was able to stay in one place longer than 3 years. Although I am nothing but glad to say that I am better than before, I still hope someone would just hold my hands and tell me that “everything is going to be fine”.

    • Rachel Pieh Jones August 28, 2013 at 8:44 am - Reply

      Thanks for sharing Janice. I’m so sorry this life has been so painful for you. Moving four times during high school must be especially difficult. I hope you are able to talk with your parents honestly about some of these things. And I most definitely hope for you that someone will, one day, hold your hand and walk with you.

    • Ghanima March 31, 2015 at 2:17 am - Reply

      I know what you mean – my parents moved constantly. I hope you’re doing okay these days… this comment was a long time ago. Chin up, deep breaths. This isn’t your fault. None of this was your fault – just keep moving forward, do the best you can with who you are. I got through a lot of my own personal hell with growing up as a TCK by remembering “The best revenge is living well.” Don’t let the pain of your childhood get the better of who you are now.

  137. Suellen September 10, 2013 at 7:27 am - Reply

    I love this post – thank you for sharing. As an adult TCK, I would like you to know that 30 years on, even the tough memories are great memories and without doubt great opportunities for personal growth still now… You have given your children an amazing gift. When you are patting away the tears, make sure to pat yourself on the back as well…

  138. […] some small part of me–me who needs to learn more about being a mom of these third culture kids–knows that by always pushing them forward, I would be robbing them of the validity of their […]

  139. Alisia September 29, 2013 at 7:42 pm - Reply

    I’m a TCK form Chile, Grew up there for more than 18 years, and moved several times growing up. Now pack in the States for 6 years now . Your letter you wrote is amazing. From a TCK to a TCK parent you are doing a great job. I would never change how I grew up. Or the decision my parents made. I might have been mad when I heard my parents say we needed to move again, but I knew that this is what God had called my parents and myself to do. I must say when I read the grief part my heart stopped, I’m glad your kids can know that they are allowed to grief. I wish I knew this growing up, I just learned to hide it and move on. But keep up the good work. If I got asked would you change your past, I would say no, I’m glad I’m a TCK, I may be different and look funny when I can’t understand what the culture is around me, but this is a life I will never change or regret.

    Thanks for sharing.

  140. Ladaere Milioni September 29, 2013 at 10:32 pm - Reply

    As a mom of 3 TCK’s I regret that I’m not very good at letting my children grieve their losses. Even though our lives were enriched by the people and adventures in Uruguay and Costa Rica, I have so many fears about the negative consequences that instead of letting my children express their grief, anger, struggles I always try to make them think of the positives–Sometimes I hear them echo my refrain but I wonder how much damage I’ve done by always trying to gloss over the pain–will they be afraid to show it to me? will it resurface in years ahead as depression, anger, anxiety? I commit their hearts into the hands of a God who can mold them, can take their losses and insecurities and use them for His glory.

    • Ghanima March 31, 2015 at 2:11 am - Reply

      I know this is late, and I don’t know where you are on your journey with this, but reading this now as a TCK with parents who barely recognized the grief and loss caused by multiple transitions…. I am *so*, so grateful you are seeing this now. Talk to your kids. Talk to them. Talk to them. Talk to them. Acknowledge pain. Acknowledge stress. Acknowledge fears. Anxiety, depression, unresolved grief are very, *very* real things for TCK’s and I’m begging you to talk to them – don’t let your feelings of guilt cripple you and distance you from your children’s emotions. They will learn, as I learned form my parents taht their emotions aren’t worth the time it takes to talk about them, that their parents work and careers are more important than what they’re going through. Ask them how they’re doing. Ask how you can help. Your concerns are very real, very valid, and a blessing that you have them now instead of rationalizing them away. You are in my thoughts and in my prayers, as are your children.

  141. Katelyn Bare September 30, 2013 at 12:36 am - Reply

    I am a TCK who was born in Costa Rica, raised in Venezuela and Ecuador, and now in MS for college. I am so thankful for the decision my parents made to give their life to God and follow Him no matter the hardships. There was lot’s of hard times for me going through this, meeting strangers and them being actual family when visiting the USA. Also I’m definitely closer to my missionary “aunts” and “uncle’s” than my real ones. I feel that my extended family still doesn’t understand me and why I don’t understand certain things. Overall I love how unique and adaptable I have become because of being a TCK. I would never take back my life if I could, I love being a TCK and so glad my parents were Missionaries. Also, God has called me to be a Teacher overseas and hopefully a parent of TCK’s. Through this I feel I will understand there hardships and teach them the reasons of why God calls us to share His word with others. Thank you for posting this!! I really enjoyed reading it!!!

  142. Kate September 30, 2013 at 5:42 am - Reply

    I am a TCK from a few places. This post made me cry. I felt like it was my dad and mom reading it to me. They are really fantastic.
    I am in college now. I wouldn’t change a minute of anything that’s happened. I think that’s something TCK parents need to hear. It was worth it.

  143. Tami September 30, 2013 at 7:02 pm - Reply

    I am not a TCK, but was raised following oil field…..17 houses in 11 years in the good old USA. I said I would never do that to my kids. I hated not being from “somewhere”……but we all grow up and mature. And then God shows us what He wants us to do. I am raising 10 TCKs. They have lived in 3 countries other than their home passport country. Several have experienced boarding school for one reason or another. They have lived the life of unpredictability…..move in 6mths, how about 3 weeks……or lived with bags packed in case of evacuation. It has not been easy for some of them and some of them adjusted and adapted with amazing agility. Easy or not, I still am firmly at peace with our decision to continue to go where we think God wants us and that He will deal with the issues that come up from being a TCK all while showering blessings abundant that ONLY TCKs can imagine or understand!

  144. Lindy October 1, 2013 at 7:48 am - Reply

    Thank you Rachel! This is the second time I have ended up at your blog, and today, like so many others, your post brought me to tears. I am a missionary in the Middle East, been here 20+ years, raised my two wonderful kids here, and they are now at the point of moving on to their own adventures. I also work with teens, and the things that you shared, that you wanted your kids to know… spot on! For my kids, for the kids I work with. It is a blessing and trial. We have had to work through lots of things with them, help them to grieve the many “lost” friends over the years, the transition “back” to a country they have never really lived in. Anyway, thank you for again sharing from the heart. I will be back here again 🙂

  145. Lisa McKay October 5, 2013 at 10:54 am - Reply

    As a TCK and the mother of two TCKs now, I loved this post. Trying to untangle the impact of my own TCK upbringing and identify “home” has been such a struggle that it was the major theme of my latest book. After writing a memoir on the subject I think I’ve *finally* attained some peace with the whole concept of home. Only took three years of writing. But I guess that was cheaper than three years of therapy :).

  146. Amber October 14, 2013 at 12:36 pm - Reply

    I am a TCK and I’m grateful!! I am now a mother of four and often wish they were as well. It was challenging and fun and so many other things that have made me who I am today. I love my unique story 😉

  147. Lynn October 16, 2013 at 2:11 pm - Reply

    I am a missionary who has launched into the field a bit later in life. We have our youngest 2 kids with us, who were adopted as older kids from a Spanish speaking country. They have always been TCK’s. But you expressed the pain and the joy of the journey so well. They have friends all over the place, in many countries, because of the choice we made to Go. It was so hard for them to leave those relationships behind. But when they think of that country, they think of the people there, not the tourist attractions, not the food, the people.

    Also, as international adoptees who were old enough to remember their birth country and culture, they had the same confusion about “home” as TCK’s before we ever went onto the mission field. In fact, it was among the mission community that they finally met other kids who “got” them. I’m going to read this to my kids. 🙂

  148. Val October 16, 2013 at 6:35 pm - Reply

    Great Blog – you express the TCK heart pretty well! I was a TCK. -still consider myself a TCK & would not trade my life & experiences for anything anyone else had to offer. The hardest thing for me has been the lack of people in my life now who are interested in my life then. & trying to find the words to explain that life to the ones who do care . . . which is why I love being around fellow Global Nomads (or those who wish they were still Global Nomads). . . there’s a breath of fresh air & a sense of uncomplicated peace that comes from being around those who “understand.”

  149. Jorge Palacio October 30, 2013 at 3:06 am - Reply

    I am Mexican, both of my parents are, I’ve lived in Guadalajara, Winnipeg, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, madrid and now Aguascalientes,
    It’s been a year since I returned to Mexico, I do not adapt, I do have friends and everything but I feel Aguascalientes is so separated from the world, you rarely see foreigns and I’ve only met one tck since I moved and he agrees that it’s hard to move back to your “home” country, specially here in Aguascalientes wich is a really small city, there’s a lot of jealously, I think I might be the only kid in this school who has been in another country other than the US. Anyways I am glad that I got to live around the world and to be able to visit many other countries, and I hope I keep moving around after I finish high school, being a tck opened infinity of possibilities for me that I wouldn’t have had if I had stayed all my life in Mexico, so I thank my parents for everything they have done so me and my siblings could enjoy being tcks. Best way to raise your kids to be honest, nothing can teach you better than seeing and experiencing the world, being a tck has helped me out in so many school and outside school subjects, I’ve learned so much about many cultures, religions and countries in the world, and no school I’ve ever been to had taught me more than I’ve learned from traveling, I’ve learned English and some Arabic (enough to get me a free meal in a kebab in Norway), anyways if it wasn’t for my nomad life experience, my life would be pretty empty. Cheers

  150. Terri November 1, 2013 at 11:25 pm - Reply

    Thanks for sharing your heart with us! I am also a parent of TCKs, but in another corner of the world opposite you … the place we call home … Guatemala, Central America. I’ve lived here my entire marriage and both of our daughters were born here. We own our own home (unique and quaint), and have ministered here in a variety of ways for over 20 years. This is home, but we still yearn for our families and the comforts of “home” in the States. Life would have been much different and who my girls are becoming would look different as well if we had remained in the States. We are in awe of who God is shaping them to be all because of where they have lived their entire lives thus far. It’s not always easy, but we know this is where God has called us to further His Kingdom with the wonderful and colorful people of Guatemala. We feel grateful and honored that God chose us for this path of full-time ministry. Thanks again for sharing what sounds so much like my own heart! Blessings as you continue the journey!!

  151. Gaby November 12, 2013 at 12:35 am - Reply

    Thanks for sharing this Rachel, I found myself crying after reading #1. I’m a TCK myself together with my 3 younger siblings. We’ve lived in Mexico, Texas, Germany, and now Michigan. However while we were living in Germany I made the decision to study university in the UK which is were I live at the moment. I wouldn’t change a single moment of my life as a TCK, it’s been hard but it brought my family really close, because after every move we were the only people we had. It’s hard being away from my family now, but i am very grateful about everything. I wouldn’t be the person I am today if it weren’t for the hard decisions my parents had to make. The most important thing I’ve learned is that home isn’t a place, home it’s where the people you care about are.

  152. Barbara December 16, 2013 at 2:38 am - Reply

    Wow! What a wealth of experiences and emotions I’ve read about here! I am a TCK and wouldn’t change that at all. I guess I am a fourth culture adult, as I do not live in my ‘home’ country, or the country I was born and raised in (until 10 years old) or even the country where I went to primary boarding school, but in a different country with a different culture and language from all the others. As a child we integrated into the local community, but then had to go away to boarding school, so lost the language, then removed to boarding school in the ‘home’ country – no internet in those days, so no way to keep in touch with most childhood friends. But I have recently connected again with people I went to school with those many years ago, and it is great! I married a local man, who died and left me to raise his two beautiful daughters, and I chose to stay here to bring them up, not move ‘home’ as I did not want them to face the loss of their culture and family. Despite living here for 18 years I still do not feel a part of this community i.e. have no close local friends to whom I can open up, but fortunately have ‘foreign’ friends I can call on when I visit the capital city. I find that home is where I feel God has called me and I am content to be in that place until He calls me elsewhere!

  153. Lisa December 31, 2013 at 1:28 am - Reply

    My daughter led me to this website, and I was crying just like everyone else. I read every one of the comments. Wow….I raised four MK”s in Mexico and lived there for 45 years or so, about 15 after their father died there, and I was still taking care of my 13 year old daughter and my mother, who was bedridden with diabetes and amputated legs. I still have one in Mexico, with his two kids, two in the States, with four other grandchildren, and my daughter went to Chile with her husband as a missionary. So, all the kids flew the coop, and so did Mom, now I’m in Ecuador working with a foundation that works with indigenous people. I appreciate the internet and skype…keeping in touch with my separated family in that way. God is good, and He keeps me going..

  154. […] This is also harder. Much easier to write Hey mom look at Henry’s new haircut than to write 15 things to my Third Culture Kids or articulate my thoughts on western attitudes toward the developing […]

  155. Melissa Adams January 15, 2014 at 12:43 pm - Reply

    This is truth! In our family, we say that we each have one heart on two continents.

  156. Dawn January 18, 2014 at 11:08 pm - Reply

    Rachel, may I have your permission to used the bold section of 1-15 in an email to each of my kids and then add my own thought on each for each child? Thought this would be a real blessing to make one for each of my amazing MKs, but felt I need to ask your permission to take your idea.

    • Rachel Pieh Jones January 19, 2014 at 3:57 am - Reply

      Absolutely Dawn, thanks for asking. I love that idea for your own kids.

  157. Yacin February 27, 2014 at 6:34 pm - Reply

    We are proud of you, Rachel. I mean we, Djiboutians. Your blog is a window for our country to the world. You have a good family and awesome friends.

    Bless you!

    • Rachel Pieh Jones February 28, 2014 at 4:06 am - Reply

      Thank you Yacin, that means a lot to me, coming from a Djiboutian. I appreciate it. It is an honor to be able to live and learn here.

  158. […] 15 Things I want to tell my Third Culture Kids // The best article I have ever read to capture parents’ heart for their TCKs. Rachel Pieh Jones writes from Djibouti. YES to #7. And all the rest. […]

  159. Reintje April 2, 2014 at 7:44 pm - Reply

    This is beautiful, Rachel.
    My mom never told me those things out loud, but I know she knows and feels these things inside.
    I know exactly how it feels to be a TCK. We may blame our parents sometimes for the grief but I am eternally grateful for the experiences and the person I have become because of it.

  160. Nadya April 4, 2014 at 3:10 pm - Reply

    I’m a TCK who lived in Botswana, Africa for the first fifteen years of her life and then moved to Germany for three and a half years. Currently, I’m spending a year in China (gap year after completing high school) and will return to Germany in the summer. My family has moved in Germany though, too.

  161. Rachel Schaible May 9, 2014 at 6:16 am - Reply

    Thank you for sharing your feelings, Rachel. I cried tears of memories, sadness and joy. I am a TCK who is 58, born in LaPaz, Bolivia, then going to high school in Buenos Aires, Argentina. My siblings and I ministered alongside our parents and we are all in ministry today. My mother made us feel that we were very privileged to live overseas and know two languages. Now I have a daughter that is in Seoul, S Korea with two of my grandchildren. I am so grateful for Skype, e-mail, Facebook, voxer, priority mail boxes…my grandparents had none of those luxuries.

    Keep writing…just from all the responses, you have struck a chord in people’s hearts.

  162. Mary Lou Bryan May 14, 2014 at 4:55 pm - Reply

    Mother’s Day from a TCK perspective.
    Thoughts about American Holidays!
    Dear Rachel,

    Today I had a bit of a revelation. It was Mothers Day on Sunday. A lovely American holiday. I appreciate this holiday as I am a mother of four and know first hand all the sentiments of being a Mom. This year is a little different as two of our kids are in Europe, completing a year of teaching English. Doing their TCK thing! So my youngest two were here in America to celebrate. The only problem was, Mother’s Day is a relatively new holiday for our family. You see for 12 years we lived overseas and that holiday was not celebrated. It got set in the background of our very full lives, church planting in Russia.
    So, our children DID NOT grow up with it. Don’t get me wrong we did have holidays, both Russian and American, but that holiday in particular, was not always honored.
    Though I was honored as their mother countless times.
    Now we have lived back in the states for 5years. This Mothers Day bit me in the back, caught me when I wasn’t expecting it. I didn’t think it was a big deal so I did not lay any expectation on my youngest. She had made plans to go visit a friend and to work, not realising it was Mother’s Day and even if it was..it wasn’t a bit deal to our family. Strangely enough, this year it WAS a big deal to me.

    This “empty nest” thing has left me a bit vulnerable emotionally.

    My middle daughter spend a wonderful day and overnight with us. She prepared a special dinner and we did all the things I love to do. I had a beautiful Mother’s Day. I hardly noticed the feeling I was having toward my absent daughter until late, late, late at night. As I lay awake feeling unloved and forgotten, passed over and unappreciated for all I had done for her, in all we had been through together. Then I felt angry!
    Why didn’t she care more? How could she forget all my sacrifice for her? Thoughtless girl!
    Feeling very justified in my feelings I vented to my sister who promptly told me to talk to my daughter about it. I admit. I wanted to stuff it, not talk about it. The push away of the empty nest, first year of college, I don’t need you anymore feeling she had projected throughout this first year in college, was still too raw.

    Then I read a blog about TCK (third culture kids) the blog had nothing to do with Mother’s Day or holidays, but The Lord used it to remind me that she did not realize I would be hurt. The whole thing was totally unintentional. She is a TCK. She did not grow up with Mother’s Day and hallmark and all of that. And besides…what is the truth?
    The Truth is…..She loves me and I love her and intentional or not…love covers a multitude of sins, and missed holidays! I read this..remembered, then she called, we talked. It was good.

    Thank you for reminding me that we have something more than “once a year” remembrances. We have a whole life time of love that we have shared and will share and celebrate! The blessing of our “mission life” outweighs the small things that we have gone without in the process, even Mother’s Day! Thank you for your amazing blog and thoughts, they really helped me today

  163. Rachel July 23, 2014 at 2:54 pm - Reply

    Thank you for writing this!

    I was born into an american missionary family in Austria. We lived in Yugoslavia as it was breaking up, located to one city in Serbia, then another, then back to another, then kicked out (due to war)and moved to Hungary. Then we moved to Croatia. I am now 28 and married living in the USA with a restless heart, with brokenness and still dealing with unresolved issues from the past.

    Being oversee’s was incredible for me until I had to return to my passport country, that is when my heart tore in half. I would never ever trade the opportunity I had to grow up the way I did. What an amazing childhood, unmatched.

    However, the transition from culture to culture, especially back to the passport country is crazy hard. As a kid whose parents were never TCK’s just Third Culture Adults, I appreciate that you are trying to be there for your kids. I was expected to just adjust and be ok. I never did. I felt isolated, like I had experienced a death that rocked me so hard, I could never be the same again.

    You are on the right track and don’t doubt going where God called you!

  164. […] children are Third Culture Kids. This means they are being raised outside their parents’ passport country: American from […]

  165. D-L Nelson October 15, 2014 at 6:54 am - Reply

    I am a third culture adult and by living in Geneva, the number of third culture kids is a huge part of the kid population. I am the author of a mystery series with the heroine a TCK, and in talking to a number of kids at all stages and ages, I came to the conclusion, some thrive, some survive.

    Love that you show the benefits and the problems in your list.

  166. konveksi seragam kerja surabaya November 19, 2014 at 11:07 pm - Reply

    Excellent post. I am facing some of these issues as well..

  167. Brooke Roush January 15, 2015 at 7:44 am - Reply

    Beautiful. My middle daughter is currently on a hunger strike because her best friend is moving back to the US and she wants to go with her. Fortunately, she has made an exception for protein shakes and smoothies. So happy to join the ranks of parents who share these same experiences.

  168. Dennis O January 16, 2015 at 7:10 am - Reply

    AWESOME is all that i can say

  169. stacey February 15, 2015 at 9:33 pm - Reply

    Was nice to hear my teen son, who HATES to travel, defend to a group over dinner that he was indeed both in “Country X”, he is ” from there”, and how could anybody doubt that! Really he would like nothing better to just stay in California forever and have never left 🙂 …. but the TCK in him is strong even though he is such a homebody. But I’m also sorry that so many think TCK like is all about being missionary kids… sad. Missionaries can give me a stomach ache, even though so many mean well and do good work. There are so many other TCKs out there.

  170. Ariane Kirtley February 19, 2015 at 10:04 pm - Reply

    I grew up as a TCK, and am raising my two (soon three) children as TCKs. Frankly, I don’t know what it would be like to grow up any other way… I can’t compare. But I can say that my life growing up, and now raising my own kids, on three continents has been truly the most enriching part of my existence. I can’t imagine life any other way. Sure, things aren’t always easy… but is any childhood easy? Yes, it’s always hard leaving family and friends, but what a pleasure and wealth to find new friends and create new family. My kids, as I did, are exposed to different universes, and understand that while we all live on the same globe, we do not live in the same worlds. They see extreme wealth, and extreme poverty… and see beauty in everything. They are full of judgement, and yet are also filled with understanding and lack of prejudice. The world is their classroom. My husband often questions our choices, and fears that we are taking away from our kids. I can’t understand this. Every day we live, no matter where we are, is such a precious and unique gift. Do my kids have a home? The world is their home… they are as comfortable in the Sahara desert and the African rain forest, as they are in DC and central France. They find treasures and beauty wherever we go. Our family is their core. Our love and unity is their strength as they grow up as true citizens of the world. Keep your chin up and stay confident that you are offering to your children the most precious treasure that you could ever imagine giving them.

  171. leasing samochodów używanych March 3, 2015 at 4:00 pm - Reply

    Nie ma jednej prostej odpowiedzi na pytanie, co jest bardziej opłacalne:
    kredyt samochodowy czy leasing prywatny (konsumencki).

  172. Lisa Hermanto March 12, 2015 at 2:19 pm - Reply

    Love this. Thank you for sharing. My 3 kids, they are all TCK. We are Indonesian family, my kids never grew up in Indonesia but always, mostly eat Indonesian food at home, indonesian customs at home. Our kids playground were US and Thailand and now Sdaudi Arabia, and for my eldest, he’s in a university in Canada.

  173. Abigail Nainoca March 17, 2015 at 9:07 pm - Reply

    Thank you for that i am a TCK & i have actually felt that way MY WHOLE LIFE. Im with Youth with a mission right now doing my DTS disciplining training school and all the being in a whole different environment came up again and i just felt like i didn’t belong. Than my mum linked me to this site and i never even told her how i was feeling but it was on point its very encouraging to hear that i’m not the only one 🙂

    • Marilyn March 26, 2015 at 7:42 pm - Reply

      Abigail – there is a whole community of global TCKs globally that gets your experience! It is a wonderful group to be a part of. I’m an adult TCK and raised my kids overseas initially. One of my daughters did DTS as well! Blessings!

  174. Diana March 26, 2015 at 10:12 pm - Reply

    The Lord knew I needed to read this today… and all the attached comments. We are just embarking on raising our support to move overseas as full-time missionaries with 3 kids at very different ages – Freshman in college, 10th grade & 6th grade. We have been riding through the full range of emotions, praying and seeking counsel as we move forward and the many ways it will effect our kids in their different stages of life. But I keep coming back to the same underlying thought – He has a plan much bigger than we can see, and we have to TRUST that He holds our kids in His hands. I want them to be where He wants them to be…. no better place! So appreciate hearing from this group on the pros and cons and how to walk this path. Trusting Him to lead as we obey.

  175. Debbie March 27, 2015 at 1:10 pm - Reply

    I agree with you. Your kids are among the coolest on the planet! My husband and I (a 70 year old RVA grad) have been at RVA the last couple of years filling in and we have come to love them too. We are going back to Kenya next month and are excited that one of them will be in our Caring Community – we had the other one two years ago. Be encouraged that you are raising wonderful, well-rounded children. I can’t wait to see all the Lord has in store for them in the future! We have video of one playing the cymbals that makes me smile just thinking about it!

  176. Alicia Macedo March 27, 2015 at 1:42 pm - Reply

    May I translate this into Portuguese to use with our Brazilian MK ministry, Philhos, the MK ministry of the Brazilian Association of Cross-cultural Missions? May I post it on our site?

    Alicia Bausch Macedo
    National Coordinator of Philhos

  177. Belina March 27, 2015 at 1:51 pm - Reply

    Thanks for this – I get to see two of my TCK’s in 7 days….. I can relate to much of what you have said. Thank you.

  178. Tim Palmer March 27, 2015 at 2:01 pm - Reply

    Rachel, Have you read Catherine Palmer’s book The Happy Room (Tyndale House)? It’s a great MK/TCK story, and I’d think so even if I wasn’t married to the author.

    • Rachel Pieh Jones March 27, 2015 at 3:52 pm - Reply

      Aha! Yes, I have read it. It was a long time ago and is probably time to pull it out again. I love that you are promoting your wife’s book!

  179. Holly March 27, 2015 at 5:44 pm - Reply

    I love this. I was a TCK, but now am supposed to be a normal midwesterner, raising my kids here and often regretting that they are just getting the American experience and not the international experience. I cherish my childhood. I will say this, your children will never feel like they belong anywhere, even if they settle down into a permanent location where they look like everyone around them when they grow up, they will feel like they are faking this American life. I’ve lived in the states as an adult for 14 years now, and still don’t feel like I’m from here. It has been hard, but at the same time, over the years I’ve come to the beautiful realization that maybe I understand more than those around me that this world is not our home. None of us are supposed to feel like we really belong here, right?

  180. Amy March 27, 2015 at 6:03 pm - Reply

    Thank you so much for your honest but loved filled post! My family recently returned from living in Haiti for a year. That maybe the only full year we ever live there, but we did it. And we learned so many things. Reading what you and so many others have said, helped quiet that nagging voice (that I know is lying) about if we did the right thing or not. My husband I decided when we got married that we just wanted to be known for saying “yes” to God whether it made sense or not, to us or those around us. Living in Haiti was just like you said, that good and bad turmoil about what our family experienced. I wouldn’t change it for a thing!!!

  181. Deb Gunsch March 27, 2015 at 6:12 pm - Reply

    Thanks for this article… after 8 years in Germany we had to move to Belgium. We thought it would be a fairly easy move for us and our kids… but it was bigger culture shock b/c we expected it to be similar and it’s no where close. All the “rules” we learned no longer applied. All the German (which is an official language of Belgium) is unusable as only the people on the border speak it. And everytime we go back to the states, no one in our families have any idea how to even start talking to my kids, but my kids will talk to everyone. I am so proud of my kids and ache for them at the same time… and at the same time, my girls have become each other’s best friends even though they are 6 years apart, because no one knows their stories like the other.

    So much joy and pain… all at once.. Consider it joy my friends…

  182. Lori March 28, 2015 at 2:05 am - Reply

    I raised three TCK kids. Two of the three moved back to the U.S. for University and one remained in Europe. All three remember how hard the beginning was…adjusting to a new culture, learning the language and adjusting to being away from family. They have shared with me how much this experience has shape them as a person. Their perspective of the international community and how they view the world as a whole. They recognize they see things differently than the average American. They struggled to fit back into American society as adults because they expressed and processed things differently. Even with the struggles to fit back in they embraced and appreciated the fact that their experiences had made them more responsive, wise and open minded!
    They love being TCK!

  183. Michelle Brubaker March 28, 2015 at 1:28 pm - Reply

    Thanks for sharing your heart. I was nearly in tears as I read your post. One year ago we were making plans to travel to the Middle East with YWAM. My husband and I, both middle aged, enrolled in a YWAM training school, DTS (Discipleship Training School), along with our three young boys, ages 8,9 and 11. We left our home, jobs, church, families and community for 6 months. We trained for 3 months in CO, then traveled for 10 weeks. We went to Turkey, Georgia and Armenia as part of our outreach with YWAM. We moved 11 times throughout of 10 weeks abroad. Our eyes were opened to the realities of living life in another culture. We spent time with numerous missionary families and supported them in any way we could. We cried with them, we prayed them and just loved them. Through our experience we formed lasting friendships with the missionaries we worked with. We have returned home from YWAM and have spent the last 9 months adjusting back to “normal” American life. We are earnestly praying about God’s plan for our lives, wondering how this cross cultural experience will shape our children’s lives. We wonder about the lasting impact on our family. The reality is that we have changed and for us, life will never quite be the same. Thanks for your insights on what it’s like to have TCK’s.

  184. Wendy March 28, 2015 at 2:36 pm - Reply

    I am a 62 yr. old TCK from Mexico, now married to a pastor with children of my own. You had me alternately crying and feeling a great sense of pride in who I am. Yes, there were terrible adjustments, separations, losses and more. But I am able to tell my 84 yr. old parents that I wouldn’t trade any of my childhood experiences for anything. It’s made me who I am. There is so much more written and available for TCKs adjusting back to their passport countries than when I came back to the States. I’m so grateful for that. You are an excellent writer. And I want to tell you your kids are going to be OK. The thing I’m most grateful for in my upbringing was the sacrifice my parents made to keep us together as a family until we went off to college. That was huge for me. One of my biggest regrets is that I couldn’t give my own children the same kind of experiences I had growing up in a foreign country. However, they’ve had plenty of moves and adjustments of their own! Keep on writing. So glad I came upon this today.

  185. Laura Shook March 28, 2015 at 3:45 pm - Reply

    What a beautiful post! I am the fiercely proud mother of three TCKs, and I can tell you they are the most amazing, insightful, engaging, intelligent, compassionate, creative, wise adults who are living their lives to change the world. Your words brought tears to my eyes as I remembered the difficult days, the grief, and the confusion. But every one of my children would say they are thankful they grew up as TCKs and wouldn’t have wanted any other life. Thank you for sharing, and for encouraging other parents of TCKs. God bless you and yours!

  186. Emily March 28, 2015 at 4:27 pm - Reply

    I am a TCK who grew up in Africa and I have raised/am raising 4 beautiful TCKs who grew up in Asia. I love your post above. I do think we need to make sure we instill in all our children the love for those who are different than themselves. That includes those in the USA who do not understand their overseas experiences and frankly don’t care that much about it. It is very hard to return to the US and not be the “special one” anymore. It is hard overseas when you stick out like sore thumbs too! (we are all blondes in our family, VERY blonde!)

    TCKs know instinctively how to make friends fast and they hold on tight; this is not the case in the USA and that has been a source of pain for my children in returning to the US. Prepare your TCKs for their return to the US long before you are ready to return! They must adjust back into their home culture in order to make their way in college etc… And, be prepared that you may need to return earlier than you want to in order to be the support system they need during those college years. It is not easy!

    Thank you for the blog. I will be following.

  187. Cherelle March 29, 2015 at 5:32 am - Reply

    As someone who fits the Third Culture Kid label, I’ve never really seen myself as being different from people in my passport country. Yes, I may have experienced another culture, but so do people who join the Peace Corps or volunteer overseas or even travel. I always got really annoyed with people who wanted to lump me into a group with thousands of other people who all had radically different experiences from each other and then say with a totally straight face that we are all the same. When I moved back to my passport country, no one could tell I didn’t grow up there unless I told them. I had no trouble adjusting at all, other than the usual high school to college stuff that nearly everyone deals with. While I liked growing up where I did, I never felt like it defined me any more than, say, the shape of my toes or what I liked to eat for breakfast. I saw it as something that was PART of who I was, not my entire identity. I always find it a bit odd when someone wants to make it my entire identity.

  188. Susie Martineau March 29, 2015 at 11:44 am - Reply

    WOW! We are a Foreign Service family, and I am the mom of three TCKS. You had me sobbing by #2 and I want to tattoo #7 somewhere on my body! THANK YOU for writing and sharing these words. You have gone to a place many of us are afraid to go and said what many of us fear to say. I’m sharing this with my two oldest (17 and 20) and I hope they will hear my voice in your words!

  189. Mandy Caley March 29, 2015 at 3:01 pm - Reply

    Thank you so much- I am a mom of adult TCKs who will identify with what you are saying indeed <3

  190. Michele March 29, 2015 at 4:04 pm - Reply

    I’m not a TCK and single with no kids… but started my own overseas life by teaching TCKs in Kenya, and now have the joy of teaching them in an international Sunday school in Nepal. I just want to say thank to all of you who are raising your kids in another culture. I fell in love with TCKs that first year (1993) and still thoroughly enjoy their beautiful, extra-creative, complex, open-minded, empathetic selves!

  191. Guilene Regnier March 31, 2015 at 2:59 am - Reply

    Well, after reading all the posts, I have to say my Midwestern 56 years seem so lame 🙂 However, I could relate to the cultural struggles as I was transplanted from the Chicago suburbs to the rural Ozarks at 12. I was blessed to experience a different culture and forced out of my comfort zone but not without many tears and much drama. As a Christian school teacher, I had the joy of welcoming a TCK into my 4th-6th grade class. We threw him a birthday party and learned it was the first he had ever had. His face was total joy. Now my heart and prayers go out to families separated from each other. I shed many tears leaving my elderly mother as I went to serve as a nurse for a summer. I was only 4 hours away, yet I worried what if something happened to her. Empathy is my middle name when it comes to family ties. Thank you for writing from the heart.

  192. Michelle March 31, 2015 at 4:39 am - Reply

    Thanks so much for sharing your heart and so much wisdom! It has struck a chord with so many people – you have a God-given gift with words to be sure!:) I am an adult TCK so I can resonate with what you’ve written – my parents were and still are missionaries in Asia. I have 7 siblings, all of us adults now, and I would say that all of us have had a different journey because of our different personalities and the fact that we moved around alot between countries in Asia/furloughs, coming back for family emergencies, etc, so we all had different homes and schooling experiences. From my experience and that of my siblings and TCK friends, some of the biggest strengths of TCKs are having a large worldview and therefore the ability to empathize with many different people, flexibility in adjusting to so many different people, places, and situations; and keen observational skills (ie. figuring out how to blend in even the most awkward/difficult situations). On the other hand, it seems to me that three of the biggest issues affecting adult TCKs, myself included, is grief (like you touched on), the resulting fear of making attachments whether to places or people (MKs either tend to thrive on change or despise it or both:), and also pride. I think that one of the hardest transition times for a TCK is the college/young adult years, where they become what I call a “transparent” TCK – no one knows of our background unless we share it. Growing up, I felt like we were always put on a pedestal here in churches/schools because we had such a special background and crazy experiences. When we visited supporters or churches everyone thought our experiences were so cool and treated us like saints, but I felt like that only alienated us more from fitting in. I actually became very disillusioned and discouraged in college (I was at a Christian college) because my TCK status had become “who” I was and not just “what” I was. When I was ready to let go of that pride and surrender that part of my identity, I feel like I had a lot of closure and healing with grief and became able to relate better to the “normal” people around me without feeling so judgemental. I still love the fact that I am an MK and love sharing about my past and things, but I don’t feel like it’s the most important part of me, rather my identity in Christ is foremost. I think it’s really easy for MKs to get caught up in their identity as a TCK and thus have a hard time finding their place amongst non-TCKers or if they end up going back overseas, with how to relate to fellow missionaries who don’t necessarily share their TCK background. I still struggle with attachment, particularly with friendships, ie. whenever I make a new friend, my first thought is “how long will they be around/will I be around them,” (and am tempted to gauge my effort/time that I put into the relationship on that) but realize I have to surrender this to the Lord too and not let my selfish feelings get in the way, remembering that “a friend loves at all times”! Despite this, I would never change my past, as I see how the Lord has used it and continues to use it to mold and shape me:) I do wish that more people were aware of the identity issues that TCKs face and the crippling effect it can have on their transition into adult life (I totally agree with Emily who touched on this in the above comments), if the focus is on the TCK aspect of their background rather than who they are in Christ, which is why I’m sharing this here. Many blessings on you as you seek to understand your children and prepare them for life. You are doing a beautiful job by trying to encourage them and keeping the conversations open and getting to know their hearts!!

    • Rachel Pieh Jones March 31, 2015 at 6:00 am - Reply

      Thanks Michelle, I really resonate with your thoughts on the TCK identity vs. identity in Christ. I’ve been thinking about that more as my kids grow, and about how to make sure the focus stays on the right thing. Wise words, thank you!

  193. lynna March 31, 2015 at 6:02 pm - Reply

    I’m a TCK and I cried reading this. The good byes of friends I’ll never see. The things I took for granted and miss so now. Now, my parents are still over seas and they miss being with grandkids. But mostly, it made me cry because my son isn’t a TCK and I miss for him what he’s missing out on, although he does have group sports here in the US and other US activities TCKs miss out on, it saddens me on the other experiences I had that he never will. They made me a better person.

  194. Sue April 1, 2015 at 7:10 am - Reply

    My most common prayer for myself and my kids :’LORD please strengthen our hearts’.
    And He does somehow….we truly are strangers on this planet.

  195. Carrie April 1, 2015 at 7:31 am - Reply

    Thank you for this. Parenting 5 amazing TCKs in Palestine. It’s gotten harder as they’ve gotten older. And I weep for the goodbyes they are forced to say all.the.time. I am proud of them beyond the words I have to express it. And I am thankful to God for the people they are not in spite of, but because of their experiences as TCKs. Fluent in Arabic, aware of things so much greater than themselves, sensitive to the needs of the people of the world…so much more. Thanks for sharing your journey.

  196. Alice Jungclaus April 1, 2015 at 10:52 am - Reply

    You opened my heart as a human being by writing this. Thank you. My life abroad as a parent is not the same as yours, but I found some commonality in my parenting heart with your expressions on the screen. There are so many kinds of transnational families – infinite diversity. The migration and movement seem to be common themes and emotions of frustration, fear and anger alongside joy, excitement and a sense of aliveness. TCK, Immigrant, Global Cosmopolitan, CCK, Refugee, Expatriate, Global Nomad, Newcomer, Global Citizen…so many ways we have tried to capture the experience or life context of people who move around from community to community. At the end of the day, the heart always tells stories of its own that transcend any label for the lived experience of human migration. Thank you so much for sharing your heart with the world!

  197. Leonor Torres April 2, 2015 at 1:19 am - Reply

    Thank you Rachel, I am a TCK and proud, my three children are proud and yes they passed through all the things you said and more! Mercy y Gracias. We are a Mexican family that went from Mexico to West Africa, then to east Africa then to USA. US was the hardest for my children in regards friends it was hard for them to have friends.

  198. Sharon April 9, 2015 at 11:29 pm - Reply

    I love all that you wrote! It had me in tears before I even started as I kind of knew some of the things I would probably be reading. I am fairly new at this. My son left Canada to go to Kenya for one year which ended up being 3 years. I was okay with one year but 3! I was glad to see him return home. The thing was he fell in love with another Canadian from another province and together their dream was to leave Canada and live in a third world country. Their dream and ministry. First when they got married he just moved to her province in Canada but that was just preparing for the big move. It was so hard to say goodbye even though I knew this is what God had planned for their lives. I fought with God over this many times. I was fearful knowing full well what can happen in some of these countries. To say the least I really struggled which made a difficult relationship between my daughter in law, myself and my son. I finally gave in and listened to God, accept his plan for them and was feeling not too bad. They are now expecting their first child in 3 months. Once again the thoughts come at how little time I will be able to spend with my grandson. I want to be there for them while they are preparing for everything, baby, a move, buying and selling furniture but I can’t. I will be visiting them when our grandson is 6 months old and I am alright with that. It doesn’t mean that it isn’t difficult at all but I am alright. I think that when I finally accepted everything was when they were home for a few weeks and as soon as they arrived my daughter in law said how much she missed home. I felt bad for her thinking she meant where here parents are as they stopped first at our place and then were travelling on later to visit her parents. When I tried to be there for her regarding this her comment was “No I don’t mean I miss my old home, I mean I miss home. Where we live now is home and I miss it”. I knew then that they had really settled and the love they had for their new country, friends, culture and lifestyle. They had completely embraced it with their new language skills and this was now their home.

  199. […] the lives of the four people who left massive impacts on the conversation about growing up as a Third Culture Kid by looking at how Ruth Van Reken embodies […]

  200. Brad Rich April 25, 2015 at 3:55 am - Reply

    Thanks. Humans have a natural reflex to be defensive and selfish. Traveling and starting over brings humility and with some kind direction, or sometimes just an inate goodness, kids become more sympathetic and gracious. I lived in Belgium for two years after growing up as kind of an oddball. As an adult I had to redirect a childish ambition to become an architect because it was just not in my soul, and I went toward teaching. When I couldn’t make enough of a living for my family, I joined the armed service, and my family accompanied me to several locations under adverse conditions. One daughter crossed cultures to marry. Another daughter teaches mentally handicapped kids. I have a job that is low on the totem pole to social climbers, but I love it, and I learn Spanish so I can communicate with co- workers. My grandkids are growing up in challenging conditions, but adapt amazingly well. Six of them have a dad that decided, after attempting a teaching career, to join the armed services. They lived in Italy for two years, and now they are in England. The ten-year-old is especially good at befriending those that don’t have friends. They get lots of encouragement from their Grampa, my brand of sympathy.

  201. Daniel May 1, 2015 at 10:14 pm - Reply

    Thanks for everyone for your posts. It is so good to read all these posts by other MKs. I didn’t know so many other people have had the same struggles and blessings I have had. I am so thankful for my experiance grwoing up the first 19 years if my 20 year life in West Africa (I just moved to America a few months ago). Yet at the same time it has left in me a deep deep indescribable pain and bitterness. I have cried so much as I have read many of these posts that resonate so deeply with me. I miss home so much and often spend hours weeping at night. I had such a great childhood and yet I feel like I have lost so much. Why does it hurt so much? I don’t know. But I am certain the pain will be there until God wipes away the tears from my eyes on that Day. So many tears, so much loss! “Though he slay me yet I will praise him”.
    Is there a MK forum or group out there to facilitate sharing of our stories? No one but an MK will ever be able to understand. If anyone knows of one please let me know.

    • Rachel Pieh Jones May 2, 2015 at 6:10 am - Reply

      I wrote you an email with lots of links, hope it helps. Thanks for your heartfelt comment, I’m so glad you found this post, the comments are rich with wisdom and perspective.

    • Katie November 6, 2016 at 7:56 pm - Reply

      Dear Daniel, I just wanted to let you know that as a MK who grew up in the Philippines and moved to the US for university (but not before spending a gap year in Cote d’Ivoire) I have also spent a lot of time feeling in pain and crying. One of the verses that, although I don’t presume to know exactly all that it means, encourages me is: And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life. Mth 9:29

  202. shelby June 4, 2015 at 3:41 pm - Reply

    I am a TCK myself and it is really hard to be one because of leaving your family and it is sad. You have been with them all of those years and you love them so much that it is really hard to leave them. And it is hard to be different and try to fit in with all of the national kids and if you don’t have a friend it is really hard and try to make friends and try to fit in but because you are different, it is hard to do. But in the beginning everyone loves you in a new school because of your difference, but after the newness wears off you are just another different kid. Culture is really difficult to understand. One thing good about it, is that you meet new people like the people in Central Asia, the people can be really nice. We have a tent-like thing called a Yurt and we get to stay in them sometimes. The food is really strange and interesting. it is hard being a TCK. Whenever you get to see your family again it is really a happy time.

  203. Sarah July 15, 2015 at 1:07 am - Reply

    Loved this post. I am an MK now living back in the USA as an adult. I wouldn’t change a think about my growing up years. Something my parents told me has stuck with me and hope it will encourage other MK parents or potential ones. When struggling over wether it was fair to impose their decision to move to a different culture on me their 5 year old at the time this is what God shared with them. God wouldn’t call parents to ministry unless he was also calling their children to go” hugs everyone we are blessed.

  204. Lucy September 21, 2015 at 12:39 pm - Reply

    I too wept while reading this post. This topic is has been on my mind quite a bit lately. My Husband and I moved overseas from the USA 17.5 years ago. My kids are teenagers now and have never lived in the USA They visit the USA during summers and most Christmas holidays. We were recently in a situation where there was a chance we were moving back to the USA. 50% were happy about finally moving to America. The other 50% were very disappointed to be leaving the country they grew up in. Their reactions have completely made me 2nd guess all of the choices my husband and I have made over the last 15 years. This has helped me put our choices into a better perspective. And to realize too that others question the same things. That I am not alone in my thoughts.
    Thank you for writing this article Rachel and for everyone else commenting.

  205. Anna in Africa October 7, 2015 at 7:30 pm - Reply

    Wow! This is great. Thank you for sharing your heart. I feel those deep emotions too and my TCKs are 2 and 1 year old. I can’t fathom what life will be like when they get older. Just yesterday, walking my 2 yr old home from local preschool, I was thinking, “How can I relate to you?” The experiences he is going through I’ll never know. I just hope when they get older I can communicate my feelings as well as you did here. Thanks!

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  209. Kafia Doualeh November 22, 2015 at 8:23 am - Reply

    Your words are so beautiful and so true!!! Thank you for sharing! Daughter of a diplomat, im a TCK myself and i am from Djibouti ( originally).
    Was born and raised in belgium til the âge of six, then we moved to KSA . I was 14 years old when we left there an that i get to see for the first time of my life the country of my parents, Djibouti. Despite the heat , i loved it, specially the people, theyre generous and caring. And here am i in Senegal, for the seventh year , medschool …. Love this country too. I could spend days telling you why but ill pick just one : the weather. The summers are not that hot and the winters are just perfect , no freezing cold anymore 🙂
    Theres something common to every TCK that i would like to mention : there no place that we truly feel like we belong and at the same time we belong everywhere , theres so many places we can call home but yet we cant stay in the same country for more than 5 years, and if we do we have some ” suffocating-stuck in a box-feeling” . I might come back “home” the year to come.
    The best gift you could give to your children for their birthday is a ticket, and i can assure you youre gift will be welcomed and appreciated.
    Thank you again for sharing!!!

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  211. Nancy December 12, 2015 at 9:57 pm - Reply

    The journey we are on binds us together, Sweet Mom. I am a grandmother who looked for a connection to hold on to as it gets bumpy nearing the close of five months. Thankful you did share and throw the life line! May we all be bound by knowing we have each other, our stories, our triumphs, our tears and our Priovider. The challenges are not always predictable, but we know we are all hand picked. These children are our inspiration when our minds who know too much can be hushed by their voices. I am restored. Thank you.

  212. Casey May 31, 2016 at 4:28 am - Reply

    Hi Rachel, I’m Casey, a TCK now in college in America. Neither of my parents are TCKS – until they started having kids they had mostly grown up in the same place their whole lives – and a lot of times they don’t really understand what its like, or why I’ll chose one place over another to call home. I keep this page bookmarked, because these reminders are ones I need to hear from time to time, even if not from my own parents. Thank you. <3

  213. Chris Hornbrook June 24, 2016 at 9:00 pm - Reply

    Thank you so much for writing this. My wife and I just made the decision that we believe God has asked us to take a big step of faith and leave the church we planted and love in San Diego to become missionaries down in the Dominican Republic. We have 5 amazing little gifts from God ranging in age from 3 months to 7 years. I literally just heard the phrase Third Culture Kids for the first time last week and then saw this post shared on a friends Facebook page. I was going about my normal day sitting here in a coffee shop when I read this. I unexpectedly started crying, not sure why, just very moved by your post. Filled with gratefulness that God would allow us to be used in this way and filled with grief over leaving this place and church family we love so much. I feel comforted by the Lord and somehow feel like all of these emotions are healthy and ok. Thanks for your authenticity. Can’t wait to share this with my wife.

  214. laura clare October 7, 2016 at 11:25 am - Reply

    Practical suggestions , I learned a lot from the specifics ! Does someone know where my company could possibly grab a sample NY DTF ST-120 form to edit ?

  215. Katie November 6, 2016 at 7:49 pm - Reply

    Thank you for writing this. I read it and cried, and cried, and cried… I am a missionary kid who has just began in university to try and process all that I lost. I was always proud of how unique my family’s life was when I was younger, but I never took the time then to grieve. I now deeply desire to try and make a home, but I don’t quite know where to make it.

  216. Deb January 2, 2017 at 4:49 pm - Reply

    Please be careful about stereotyping MKs/TCKs. We have been M’s for nearly two decades. Our two kids lived in ONE overseas location (daughter from age 8-20; son from 2 to soon-to-be 21) during the entire time. They were homeschooled for their entire pre-college education — that means they attended neither an international school nor a boarding school. We have not had colleagues – they have not had a wealth of “aunts and uncles.” Only one time in over 18 years have we spent more than 5 months at a stretch in the US (our passport country). So, while they do feel an affinity with other TCKs, they also feel very different from most, too. Their experience is just that – THEIR experience. And, in fact, with 5 years between their ages, they each have a different life experience from the other – not to mention their very different personalities and God-given abilities which have greatly affected their interactions in our host culture and our home country.
    All that to say that while I have read your post and “amenned” it in many points, and read with equal interest the comments and reactions, I have also seen that the general expectation of and for my kids is too narrowly defined; much of what you assume to be their “lot” is not, in fact, what TCK has been THEIR life.

  217. Chris September 25, 2017 at 1:29 am - Reply

    Thanks for sharing.

    I’m A TCK and a TCK parent. I would add, “you don’t have to be “perfect””. My parents never expected me to be perfect (well nobody is perfect, but you know what I mean). While they had reasonable expectations, I didn’t grow up feeling like I was supposed to be someone I wasn’t, like a model student or that I should follow in their footsteps (though I kind of did). It was with others, especially after going to the states for college, where there was a certain amount of pressure to have it together. I don’t have it together and at times as an adult working overseas that pressure is even greater.

    I can relate to the joys and sorrows of being a TCK parent. My kids have lived in 5 countries, (including the states) where we had three days to leave one of them, and had to leave the next because of unforseen circumstances. There are times when I have thought that I should have chosen more stable countries to take my family to, or done things differently. All of the transition has been a huge challenge, yet in so many ways my kids have loved their lives growing up as a TCK(as did I). An extended time in their passport country the last few years, has not been easy, but has helped them grow in areas that they might not have overseas. All three of my kids would say that they are glad to have a TCK life, joys and challenges included.

  218. Freja November 8, 2017 at 2:47 pm - Reply

    Dear Rachel.
    Some very beautiful words, thoughts and emotions… These words are very sincères and they go straight into my heart. I’ve been dropping tears from beginning to end while reading.
    Thanks for your courage,

  219. Iago January 16, 2018 at 4:25 pm - Reply

    Hi Rachel,
    I’m looking for any research about Brazilians TICKs, do you know where I can find some material about that? I have been looking for some days already and … nothing.

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