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Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Expat children are children first!

So for a year and a half I’ve been blogging about raising children abroad and why they differ so much from all other children, and why they’re so special. As it turns out, they aren’t. I mean, of course they are special, but for totally different reasons.

Our little world citizens are not special due to their multilingualism (although it is an important aspect), or the fact that they are raised in another culture but because they are children. So here you have it: our little citizens of the world are just that: children.

What does it mean? It means just that they - and we as their parents - go through the same challenges as parents and children who are raised with one culture. We deal with temper tantrums, sicknesses, runny noses, poopy diapers and a plethora of other child-related issues.

It also means that we love them and try to choose the best for our children without losing our sanity in the process. It means that we spend a lot of time with them. It means picking the best parenting method that works for our families. This means we face the same decisions that other parents do: how do we feed them? Where do they sleep? Will they go to daycare? Are we going back to work or not? The decisions are endless.

It also means that just, like other parents, we have the joy to watch them grow and learn and explore. We revel in the way our children laugh, and the way they hug us with their little chubby (or in my younger child’s case, somewhat less chubby) arms. We love to listen to them sing, and tell us what they think about the world. And I can tell you that a three-year-old already knows a lot about the world!

Of course, there are things that are different or maybe more difficult for us. On top of the usual parenting issues, we are dealing with things like trying to teach them about our cultural identity, or to help them speak our languages. This means a lot of struggling with the majority culture and language. But in the end, we are not so different. I think that as a mom blogging about the challenges I’m facing raising multilingual children, I sometimes tend to forget that they are children first. They are funny, cute, adorable, and clever and a million other awesome things. Sometimes they are annoying.

Having children is amazing and exhausting, challenging and exhilarating, all at the same time. Never before did I find myself confronted with so many decisions. Never before have I found that my love can grow and encompass two - and soon-to-be-three little people.
Because, regardless of our children’s cultures, they are children. They play, they cry, they fight, they laugh. And just like every parent in every corner of the world, I hope that they will grow up to be good people. 

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