6 Reminders for Our TCKs

6 Reminders for Our TCKs

As a mom of three third culture kids, I find myself saying many of the same things over and over. In our home, these conversations are lovingly called “mom talks”.

Since our move overseas, we’ve spent time on three continents. My girls have friendships with kids from all over the world. They speak pieces of a few languages, attend boarding school, don’t blink when the power goes out and love living in West Africa. In their young lives, they’ve moved, transitioned and persevered through challenges big and small.

The challenges are always a part of their days. Whether a friend is moving away or America seems like a forgotten dream or it’s been a few days without water or another cockroach crawled out of their pillow, TCKs face situations of all kinds with smiles and courage.

Third culture kids are amazing that way. They truly are.

Yet, in their amazingness, TCKs still need reminders of faith, hope and trust.

In these “mom talk” moments, I find myself saying the same words of encouragement, challenge, and motherly wisdom.

Third culture kids need to be reminded of who they are, why they are special and how valuable their life experience really is as they grow into adulthood.

These reminders are somewhat basic. They are sweet phrases that can be messages for our kids {and for us!} to remember and know.

Whether they believe us in this moment or not, the reminders are important building blocks for a deep foundation that they’ll always look back on in the years to come.

What are these reminders for our third culture kids?

1} Things are always changing, here and there, yet Jesus remains the same.

Friends change. Houses change. Towns change. People change. Beds change. Pets change. Change is a normal part of life. It’s happening on all sides of the ocean. While not necessarily encouraging, knowing that things will change can help our kids process, grieve, and understand the constant shifting. Knowing that Jesus remains the same yesterday, today and forever will ground them in ways that we can’t create for them here on earth regardless of our occupation, place or schedule.

2} People are people anywhere you go and Jesus loves them all.

Every country, church, community and classroom has the same thing: people. There’ll be the cool kids, the smart kids, the mean kids. There will be someone friendly… and someone not so friendly. As our girls move around from school to school and friend group to friend group, this has really helped them see past culture and really see people. It’s helped them process from one season to the next knowing that everywhere they go, people will be people. People with emotions, frustrations, home situations, struggles, joys and fears. People of all nations that are loved by the God who created them.

3} They must accept grace from Jesus and extend grace to others and to themselves.

As kids who walk through culture shock, culture stress, and language barriers, these kids must remember to extend grace. Grace to the people around them. People who don’t understand, who act out or hurt them. They must offer grace to themselves when they make mistakes or have a bad day. They also must know how freely given, completely endless and greatly abounding is the grace of God towards us no matter what is happening in our lives.

4} Third culture kids need to know the why.

Why are we here? Why did we move? Why did they have to go to yet another school? Put into words for your kids why you are living and working overseas. Help them understand and see for themselves the why being lived out around them. Let them participate. Give them opportunities to hear from Jesus and sense their valuable role in His work around them. Even when we don’t understand the why ourselves, we can look up, remember and trust the work we’ve been called to do.

5} Their lives are a great adventure.

They are seeing places, participating in cultures and learning about the world in ways most people will never have the opportunity to experience. These kinds of life skills, world views and cultural knowledge can’t be taught at school or bought at the store. Their lives are an amazing blend of great adventures from many countries, languages, and peoples. Lessons and adventures that will give them a head start in many, many ways over the course of their lives.

6} The world really isn’t that big.

It’s a small world after all. My girls have friends in Australia, England, Belgium, Morocco, Tunisia, America, Brazil, France, Korea and on and on it goes. Multiple continents that are no longer random places on a map, but places with faces and memories of friends. Most TCKs have this same thing in common. Friends from all nationalities, countries, and cultures. It’s these precious relationships that make them third culture kids. They can hold chopsticks like pros, eat with their hands from a common bowl, or sweat through being squeezed onto a bench for church. The world doesn’t seem so big when you experience so much of it on a daily basis.

Again, these phrases are things our kids might not understand yet. They are concepts that they might not believe, feel or even agree with when they are in their growing up years.

But that doesn’t mean we don’t tell them and remind them as they walk through the challenges of being a third culture kid.

What are some “mom talks” that you have with your kids? What are some of the common phrases you say to your kids on a regular basis? How do you see these phrases building a foundation for your TCKs as they grow up?

Photo by Patrick Buck on Unsplash


  1. MaDonna Maurer June 4, 2019

    I really like your first reminder. It is so true, especially for them/us. And this is the time of year when people come and go. Thanks for sharing these. I was trying to think what is something we talk about a lot – and it is probably the importance of a “good” good-bye.

    1. Jenilee Goodwin June 5, 2019

      Yes, with the school year ending, we are talking a lot about good goodbyes too. Definitely a mom talk we have often. Thanks for sharing that!

  2. Dorette June 6, 2019

    Loved this, Jenilee!

    Such great reminders, not only for TCKs but for us as well. Especially that people are people anywhere we go and we need to extend grace 😉 I’ve learned that this is a gift in itself for how much it helps us grow.

  3. Katie June 7, 2019

    I also loved this post, Jenilee!

    I am not a mom but I have worked with TCKs for the past four years. These truths are treasures for them and for us. I love what you said about learning things about life and other cultures that you could never learn in school because of their TCK experience. There is so much good among the very hard things of living overseas. Thanks for pointing them out to us!

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