By Aislinn Delmotte, Settling Here
“Raising Global and Mobile Kids” was the theme of an interactive seminar run by Settling Here in Feb 2017 at Webster University. The expert guest speaker was Kristin Duncombe, a Geneva based psychotherapist and author. The seminar looked specifically at international identity and mental-health, and Kristin spoke about raising children in an international context, and the impact of a global, mobile existence on identity and self-esteem.
The diverse audience included anglophone and francophone parents, who are raising children who are bi-cultural, bi-lingual and also third culture children. It’s not always easy to categorize one’s family and its culture but I liked Kristin’s presented definition of third culture which breaks down into three: namely the culture(s) of the family, the culture of the host country (ies), the expatriate subculture and/or the bi-cultural families subculture. There are a lot of cultures at play for some of our Global kids and the critical tasks for parents are to help their kids understand their culture(s) of origin, help them get along in mainstream society and also deal with being a "hidden immigrant".
What indeed is a hidden immigrant? Well Kristin gave us lots of examples from her own life and experience throughout the evening and explained how she felt like a hidden immigrant when she moved to the US as a young adult. The child of American parents who lived oversees her whole life, Kristin for all appearances was just like everyone else in her new US town but, unlike them, at the age of 24, Kristin had yet to learn how to drive a car; her new friends all had learnt to drive age 16.
During this informative seminar Kristin also discussed how as parents we can help our kids through an international move. Some of the key points are: to be healthy role models for our kids and give them coping strategies; give access to trusted adults outside the immediate family; have clear family and school rules about expected behavior; be parents who are understanding...but still in charge, and recognize that our children's personal identity may differ from ours as parents.
The practical suggestions include: creating opportunities to discuss things; sharing experiences of your own, flaws and all; and also strategizing using a solution-focused approach. One solution presented in the case of a loss of attachment such as a good friend moving away: in this case the solution could be closure in the form of a going away celebration.
There was a lot more discussion around Key Cognitive Skills (Mind Over Mood) and how paying attention to how you think is important because how we think, how we feel and what we do are all interconnected. So if we want positive successful outcomes then we need to be aware of “thinking errors” and strive for solution-focused thinking. For more information, please contact:
Kristin Louise Duncombe
022 566 1084
Aislinn Delmotte runs Settling Here, a company which aims to provide practical help and advice to individuals, couples and families relocating to or indeed already living in the Pays de Gex, a region where some of the customs are similar to those in neighbouring Switzerland, but where many aspects of living are entirely different.
Settling Here aims to bridge the gap between France and Switzerland and provide information which is specific not only to France but to the Pays de Gex region too. Settling Here provides individual assistance to clients and runs regular information sessions, bringing along regional experts to discuss certain topics which include, for example: taxes, house purchase and selling, health care in France, driving laws: job hunting in Switzerland and cross-border issues.