It’s that time of year again – the Moving Season. It is the time of year when globally mobile families around the world pack up their homes, their memories and their emotions and move to a new destination. For some it will mean returning to their “home” country whilst for others, their life will continue in a new “host” country.
Moving is regarded as equally as stressful as death and divorce and repatriation is known to be the most difficult of all international transitions.
Leaving is a process, not an event and it begins the minute you learn that you are on the move. You have already begun the subconscious loosening of emotional ties – to people, places and possessions. I know this because I have done the journey. In this blog, I share a little about the steps our family followed to ensure that we left our host country well thus placing ourselves in a position to succeed in our next destination. I strongly encourage you to take the time to follow these steps (even though you are packing boxes and finalising your pet’s quarantine requirements) because by looking carefully at one transition, it will help you and your family members to more effectively engage in all their transitions in life – whatever the context.
Steps to ensure that you Leave Well:
- Build Pollock’s RAFT *–
- Reconciling any differences with others –
- Don’t leave any undone issues or unfinished business.
- Forgive others and ask for forgiveness
- Do this either face to face, by writing a letter or making a phone call
- Affirming those who have been important to you
- Tell people how much they mean/meant to you before you leave. Acknowledge the blessing they have been in your life
- Make a list of whom to affirm – teachers, coaches, other adults, peers etc
- Record the way you will say thank you or affirm E.g. gift, hug, note, personal momento, face to face words etc – get creative!
- Do it! Don’t allow the “I-can’t-be-bothered-doing–it-now” line. It’s important that it is done before departure because relationships are built and maintained on affirmation – the knowledge that each person in the relationship matters**
- Saying appropriate Farewells to people, places & possessions
- Parents – respect your child’s personality here… Plan these farewells with your children
- Friends: If you’re a party person, parties are good. Be sure to spend a couple of minutes one-on-one with each guest doing appropriate farewells, which may include the first two steps
- Places, Pets and Possessions: allow time to say goodbye to these
- Visit places in your current location that hold significance for you
- Even if you are seeing your pet at the other end, be sure to say goodbye appropriately and put a piece of your worn clothing in the crate so they can smell you with them.
- Relinquish the possessions you no longer absolutely need but choose a few possessions to take that will bring you comfort and tie you to your past.
- If your child is departing and you are staying put, your child needs to plan their farewell to family – include siblings and parents (see note below if this is your situation)
- Thinking ahead – researching and discussing your destination
- Look forward – research your new environment together to lessen the Culture Shock or Re-Entry Culture Shock .E.g Fashion, TV shows, Music, Personalities, Sports, Faith- based Groups, Current Affairs etc. Knowledge is power!
- Remember, it is possible to make new friends without being disloyal to your old friends
- Reconciling any differences with others –
- “Don’t get caught focusing on the cognitive reasons for your move rather than the emotions created by the move.” T. Quick
- Watch the recently released Pixar movie, Inside Out, as a family – even if you have teenagers. Identify and discuss the important roles that each of our emotions play, including sadness. This will give you all permission to grieve your losses openly and honestly. As parents, agree to be real and do your best to model “good grief.” Be sure to highlight the fact that by working through these steps you will minimize the negative reactions to the challenges faced by the main character, Riley and her parents.
- Read lots! See my TCK Resources page for a comprehensive list.
- Discuss the impact of your time in your host country as important foundation stones upon which to continue building your lives
- Make family meal-time a priority (even if it’s take away or at your local restaurant if all your crockery is packed) so you connect and share your thoughts, feelings and experiences – the hilarious, the good and the not-so-good of each day
- Extend grace to each other…often!
“Learning to proactively engage in the process of transition is a core skill for success in the 21st Century.” Barbara Schaetti.
Please don’t say, “oh Jane, you are over-thinking this, we’ll be fine!” Too many times, in my role as an Educator and as a globally mobile Mum, I have seen Third Culture Kids inhibited in their learning and ability to develop and maintain friendships because they are emotionally traumatized by the transient nature of their lives. Anger, bitterness, rebellion, depression and physical ailments are just a few of the side effects but this doesn’t need to be the case. By working through the steps outlined here, you can ensure that the challenges faced by this next move will not be overwhelming or traumatic but springboards for growth for each of you.*** Leave well so you can enter well and effectively engage in all the transitions in your life.
NOTE FOR PARENTS OF CHILDREN DEPARTING:
If your child is departing but you are staying in your host country, please purchase two copies of Tina Quick’s book (2010) The Global Nomad’s Guide to University Transition, Great Britain: SummerTime Publishing. Even if your child is going to Boarding School and not University this will be your ‘Go To’ resource. Why do I say buy two copies? One needs to be packed in your child’s suitcase, the other needs to be on your bedside table. You will both find comfort and peace in reading it.
*Pollock and Van Reken, 2009
**Tina Quick, 2010
***Douglas Ota, 2014
Photo Credit: www.pandawhale.com