I just read a good article about Third Culture Kids (Missionary Kids) and how to serve them.
Third Culture Kids (TCKs) are children who grow up in a culture other than their parents’. Their “home” culture is the first culture; their “host” culture, the second. And they live in the middle, the “third” culture. TCKs include children of missionaries or other international workers. They face unique struggles in their lives of transition. It’s our privilege as the body of Christ to provide care for them as they join with their parents in God’s call on their lives to be overseas.
Here are 15 ideas from the TCK Advocate at Frontiers on how to love TCKs:
- Begin a relationship with one—or with a whole family of TCKs. Commit to keeping in touch with them. Many people are in TCK’s lives for only a short time. The long-term people are few and greatly appreciated. Be one of those long-term people.
- Seek them out when they are “home” visiting your country. Make it a priority to spend time with them when they come back.
- Learn their names. This may seem small, but many people only know their parents’ names; it is significant to them when people remember their names as well.
- Listen to them. Ask meaningful questions about their lives.
- Introduce your kids to them. Encourage them to exchange pictures with each other and send cards and emails to each other when they are apart.
- Go visit them in their country!
- Invite a college-age TCK whose parents are overseas to live with you.
- Invite TCKs who are in your area without their parents to come over for holidays and school breaks. They may need an adopted family. Communicate with their parents and encourage them in their relationship with their parents.
- Learn about what it’s like to grow up as a TCK. Visit websites like TC Kid or MisLinks.
- Pray for the TCKs when you pray for their parents. Pray Scripture for the children. Read some suggestions on how to pray for them.
- Encourage families as they make decisions for educating their children overseas. Many families choose to use local schools so their child can be a part of the culture. Be encouraging and pray that their children will shine for Jesus in their schools. Some find that boarding school is the best option for their children. Other families desire to homeschool their children. Consider sharing your resources with them or visiting a homeschooling fair on their behalf.
- Consider giving them your frequent flyer miles to help with transportation to and from their two countries.
- Send quality paperback books to TCKs overseas. Books can be like best friends and will be re-read and shared with others.
- Don’t be surprised if TCKs do not seem to appreciate your culture like you do. TCKs often feel overwhelmed by all the excesses in American culture. For example, they may feel surprised by the size of grocery stores, how often people eat out, the high cost of entertainment and how often people “splurge,” the lack of modest clothing even in the church, the sensuality in TV shows and movies, and how much people eat in one sitting.
- Get advice right from the source—ask TCKs what makes them feel loved and supported.