Moving With Your Family:

Expatriate Parenting

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

How does parenting as an expat differ from parenting at home? Two rules of parenting abroad should still be support and love.

Support Network:

One of the primary ways that parenting as an expat is different from parenting at home, at least initially, is the lack of our usual support network of family and close friends. And if we are a non-working spouse, we may also lack the emotional support of our partner. Often they are busy or travelling and adjusting themselves to a new environment. Finding ways to get the support we need as parents is a primary concern for expats.

Fortunately, in most major cities there are many organizations in place that can help. Stay-at-home expat parents should try to find something to do that you feel passionate about. It may be something that you have done before or something totally new that you would like to explore. It may be learning something new, like the local language, yoga or volunteering at your child's school.

Just try to make it an activity that involves others, as this is a wonderful way to bond and begin to build a new support network abroad. Try everyday to have a conversation with or say hello to someone new.

Your Children:

Your child may be angry to leave their familiar surroundings and old friends behind and having to deal with making new friends. Some children might withdraw and hide in their bedroom for example. Each child might have a different coping mechanism that keeps them calm and parents should look for those signs. Often it is just a matter of time as they become comfortable in a new environment before they revert back to their normal behaviour.

It is important to offer reassurance to your children that they are deeply loved by both parents. If possible, try to plan one family event each week, such as a dinner or Sunday brunch together. Ideally, children should also be able to have some alone time with each parent whenever practical.

If you have young children who love to play outside, space may be limited, for example living in a city. This can become a problem for children and parents alike. Arranging play dates whenever possible is a partial solution. Proactively seeking out other sports and play opportunities, perhaps on the recommendations of other expats, can also help.

Domestic Help:

Many expatriates may engage domestic help. How you speak with and relate to your domestic helpers also sets the tone for how your children will behave. Having domestic help is actually a good opportunity to impress upon your children how important it is to treat all people with dignity and respect. As a parent, it is important that you set an example, as we all know how much children mirror our behaviour.

If you have had an experience as an expatriate or you may have your own views on exptriate parenting, please feel free to be part of this conversation.

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