4 Things You Need to Know about the Third Culture Kid(s) in Your Life

maldive-airportCalling all grandparents, cousins, uncles, aunts, peers and co-workers! Do you have family,friends, peers or maybe even fellow employees that have grew up overseas? You probably have at least one Third Culture Kid (TCK) in your life. Would you like to know more about their strange lifestyle of these so called Third Culture Kids? Great! This list will be your guide to navigating a conversations and lasting relationships with the Third Culture Kids in your life.

  1. Please don’t put us in the spotlight.  Most often this occurs at group gatherings, especially family reunions. When foreign relatives come to visit, it is natural to want to ask us questions about our exotic life overseas. But there are somethings to keep in mind when TCKs attend a group gathering. Let’s break this down into three points.
    1. It is very intimidating for us to be the center of attention. If we are given this sort of attention too much, we begin to expect it. And when we don’t receive it, we become really confused and upset that no one is setting up the soap box for us or rolling out the red carpet.
    2. A gathering is not a press conference. We want to be included in the conversation, casually. We don’t mind answering a few questions here and there, but not all at once please! Incorporate a few questions into the ongoing conversation between everyone. Please don’t single us out!
    3. Genuine questions and listening ears are appreciated! It is extremely common for TCKs to feel as though no one listens to them. When several questions are being asked one after the other, it’s easy to see why we feel that way. Plus, the fact whoever we are talking to probably can’t relate to or fathom what we have just said.  We never expect anyone to. So try asking us questions about who we are as a person, rather than where we’ve been.Get to know us, not the places we have lived.
    4. Let us ask questions also.  We may act a little different or be slightly awkward, but we actually are really sociable people.We would like to get to know everyone, rather than everyone getting to know us (one person) all at the same time. We don’t like it when people assume we will be bored by everyone else’s life. We are fascinated and curious about what a steady life entails.
  2. We are not arrogant or snobs. There is no denying we are extremely privileged. Sure we are a bit spoiled. While we may mention our drivers, nannies and maids, we hold deep, dark secrets too. Living in certain countries we have also experience trauma or see disturbing things. Seldom do people wish to hear of horror, thus we resort to the other stories we have. We may also refrain from the behind the scenes stories because we know some of our relatives and friends are terrified of traveling to a foreign country. We want you to visit us, so we keep the less then pleasant details to a minimum, while we attempt to woo you with luxurious amenities.
  3. Where are you from is actually a painful question for us to answer. The agony! Sometimes it would be easier if we were just to state our passport or country of birth. However, later on we are going to have to explain somethings. Like our accent, where we learned to speak multiple languages, or why we are going to Germany over the holidays. Other times we feel a strong oblige to say our “host” country over our passport country. We also may say it because we are searching for our kind, or we are craving the attention mentioned previously. Mostly, we just desire to share our story. After all, we were asked a question – it seemed like an invitation to share!KODAK Digital Still Camera
  4. Dating and relationships are way different for us. I think we get screwed over far too much in our passport countries. People can be meanie heads to us. Every TCK has stories of frustrations while repatriating or even just visiting their passport country. The questions we ask are not stupid. When we say it’s different where we come from, we mean it. Please don’t assume we have it all figured out.On the flip-side, we are guilty of being impatient with our peers.
    1. In TCK world, we form friendships fast….like “I just met you two minutes ago and we are already friends, let’s go out tonight”. We skip the small talk. We don’t sit around wondering if someone is too weird or not cool enough to hang out with. We are warm and accepting towards others. We enjoy being in community.
    2. Dating experiences can vary for TCKs depending on the country. In my experience, this went fast as well. I would go on a first date because was already in a relationship. I learned the hard way that this is not the case Stateside. Apparently, you go on several dates before you declare a relationship or in my experiences, not. Oops and oh well. Now I know, I guess.
    3. Most TCKs generally grow up in places were co-ed social life is the norm. Guys and girls call each other on the phone, hug, greet each other with a kiss, and sometimes hangout one on one – but that doesn’t necessarily mean they are dating. It’s completely normal in (most) TCK worlds. We also know it may not be the norm back in our passport countries and we respect that. Please give us the same respect by not leading us on or taking advantage of us because we are forward.

There you have it. These are the four things you need to know about the Third Culture Kid in your life. I hope you found this information helpful! Stay tuned for more posts related to the topics discussed today.

Do you have Third Culture Kid sin your life? What are some  of the challenges you have experienced interacting with them? 

If you are a TCK… What are some other things you think people need to know about you? 

Leave your answers in the comment section.

7 thoughts on “4 Things You Need to Know about the Third Culture Kid(s) in Your Life

    1. Of course! Everyone is different and personality certainly does play a role. It’s interesting that siblings from the same family can have totally different TCK experiences.


  1. Lovely post! And then there are people who are like ‘But I know (insert anything) is like this’, and then you tell them that it’s not really like that, but they keep insisting because they know it better than you.

    Liked by 1 person

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