A third culture kid (TCK) can be defined as: “A person who has spent a significant part of his/her developmental years outside of the parents’ culture.”
If I use my own children as an example – they were both born in Adelaide, Australia, so their passport country is Australian. My husband and I are Australian. My children spent 10 of their developmental years living outside of their passport country – in Hong Kong, Brazil and the USA.
They are not culturally 100% Australian, nor are they culturally 100% Chinese, Brazilian or American – they have taken the best parts of all these countries and created their own “third culture” – they are truly Third Culture Kids (TCKs). They love music, food, sport and art from different cultures; they speak with an unusual accent; they don’t always get Australian cultural references; Australian kids don’t always laugh at their jokes.
Research has shown that TCKs are naturally drawn to and connect with other TCKs, even if they didn’t live in the same countries. The shared experience of growing up among worlds means they share a culture all their own. They are the global citizens of the future.
An adult TCK is someone who grew up in multiple cultures, and feels changed by the experience. They often feel a little different in their home country and may struggle to fit in. However, rarely do I meet an adult TCK who would change anything about their childhood (including myself), they recognize it as the gift it was.
This does not mean there aren’t challenges, but these can be overcome with support and connection with people who understand them.
As an adult TCK it took me awhile to realize how my TCK childhood affected me. Working with a coach was instrumental in my discovery of who I really was, and the gifts I had to offer. She helped me realize that while my childhood was “different” to many, it meant I was equipped in a unique way to connect with and support people who had experienced being “different” also.
Many TCKs experience some of the same challenges:-
To receive a copy of my “6 tips to support your TCK teen”, please contact me.
To discuss coaching options for your TCK, we can connect with a no obligation Phone/Skype Call.