I was the fifth generation to live on Quarry Rd. A quiet country road right outside of a one stoplight town in the Eastern Piedmont of North Carolina. Tobacco growing country that my family had farmed as long as anyone could remember.
I lived across from my grandparents and my great-grandmother and I don’t know of anyone in my ancestry that didn’t live in North Carolina. My roots in the old North State go deep.
It was quite the boat rocking moment when I decided to move to Georgia for my freshmen year of college. I then moved to the North Carolina hills and that is where I’ve chosen to dig my roots as an adult, even if they are somewhat superficial because of our travels.
I’ve traveled tons, lived on African red clay and like to fancy what it would be like to be a West Coast gal, but I always come home to the land of the long leaf pine. Though we come back to North Carolina as home we are always poised on the edge of going to a new place or pursuing an open door for service that could take us anywhere.
I didn’t worry about it a whole lot until we had our first child. Then I began to think about the short walk across the road to my great-grandmother’s house and Herbert’s flea market full of ancient treasures at the crossroads of our town. Herbert was a picker before being a picker was cool. I thought about stopping at Bob’s store for a SunDrop and a honeybun with my dad on the way to the trash dump on Saturday mornings.
I have wondered and wrestled with this lack of real roots and how it will affect our daughter. I worry that she won’t feel connected or have a sense of place and that at some point that will breed resentment toward myself and her daddy.
There. I said it.
My daughter is a unique child and I am certain that God placed her and made her in a way to fit our family’s very different way of living. I’m confident that God has done the same for your family if He has called you to life overseas. But that doesn’t mean that I’m not conscientious about the way that all of the back and forth and up and down of our life affects her. Because it does.
There are very practical ways that we can help our children to feel rooted even when we are rootless. Maybe “rootless” isn’t the right term. What we are looking for in our context isn’t so much roots as it is connection. We have to help our children connect with where we come from and to find ways for them to connect right where they are.
But what about the guilt? Take it to Jesus. He tells us that there is no condemnation for us and living the calling He has called us to, even if it doesn’t give our kiddos a “normal” life, it’s not something to live under the weight of guilt.
There are wonderful things about raising a third culture kid. They tend to be more resilient and flexible and will carry a different perspective then their peers. A valuable perspective that can foster amazing compassion and vision for the world and the Gospel.
When the guilt knocks hard we have to remember that Jesus was a homeless man with no place to lay His head. The son of refugees. The Son of a Holy God sent into a broken world. He was the ultimate third culture kid.
Do you struggle with raising a third culture kid? Have you experienced guilt about raising kids overseas?
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Perhaps you could use a bit of beauty to remind you that God is working through you as a parent to a third culture kid and that He will be faithful in that journey? We have a beautiful canvas giveaway from Red Letter Words today!