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Monday, 23 September 2013

Being a Third Culture Kid’s Kid

There is so much information about TCKs right now. There are blogs, books, and books devoted to what TCKs are, how they feel, how they feel at home everywhere and nowhere at the same time. But have you ever wondered what happens when a TCK meets another TCK, and they fall in love and get married and have children? Have you ever wondered what the children will be like? If so, I can answer this question. I know. I know because I am a Third Culture Kids’ Kid, born in Poland to two TCKs.

My father grew up in France, and then he moved back to Poland where he went to school. His parents, however, stayed in France. My mother had lived in the Netherlands, the very country I am living in right now, and has also moved back to Poland with her family. Their experiences of living in another country were one of the things that brought my parents together.

But our TCK tradition doesn’t end there. My paternal grandmother was Ukrainian who had married a Polish man and lived with him in many countries, including Egypt, Venezuela, and France. My maternal grandfather was born in Lviv, which is now Ukraine, but used to be Poland, and to make matters even more complicated, was, at that time occupied by the Austria.

During the First World War, my grid-grandmother fled with my grandfather to Vienna. So, in a way, my grandfather was a TCK, too. So if all that counts, I am, the 4th generation of TCK’s. I like to joke that being an expat, or a TCK is family tradition for us.

I have always wondered why I never had problems with having multiple homes, friends from all over the world, or identity issues. The first time I actually had an identity crisis, it was when I had my first child, and wasn’t at all related to my being a TCK. First I thought that it was because I didn’t move so much like other TCK’s.

But I like to think that it is also because for me it is perfectly normal to live in another country. After all, we have a long-term tradition of being a TCK! I was actually shocked that other people lived in one place their whole lives. That they didn’t speak multiple languages, or ate only one type of food. To me, that was weird and boring.

Also, my parents never spoke about any cultural identity issues. While they are both perfectly bilingual, they do sometimes have preferences for the other languages or culture. My father loves everything French, from language to wine. My mother prefers to translate into English, not Polish. But they also love living in Warsaw and living in Poland.

Now, I have children myself. And, true to my family’s tradition, they are also TCKs. They speak multiple languages. They eat many different types of food. They travel a lot. My big girl once said that she has many homes in many countries, and one of them is a hotel. This is very normal to them.

I hope you will find my story encouraging. Maybe you will struggle with identity issues, but your child doesn’t have to. And, rest assured that it is absolutely possible to have a tradition of being a TCK.

Are there other children of TCKs out there? Is there a name for us? TCKK (Third Culture Kids’ Kids)? ATCKK (Adult Third Culture Kid’s Kid?) What do you think?

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  1. I'm son to people who have lived their whole lives in the same municipality. But that's gonna change with me. Oh no wait.... it already did.

    1. Hello and thank you for commenting. Yes, it already changed with you, allowing you to visit the world and experience exciting situations! I think it is a choice: some people are happier where they are and don'r feel an urge to move. Others want to move all the time. Yet others want to travel, see the world and settle down. All of these choices are valid. For me, it was the normal thing to do- my brother is the rebellious one to stay in Poland.


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