I read missions blogs. And missions forums. And missions tweets. And missions whatever.
This is always the reoccurring theme:
“CARE FOR THE HEART OF YOUR THIRD CULTURE CHILD.”
Like: the missionaries utter and repeat this, over and over.
And they say:
“PARENTS, YOU MAY. NOT. GET. IT. You may be living in another country, far from the land of your birth, but you are not a third culture kid. You do not know what it is like to be a third culture kid.”
See, these parents at least try to listen. Because Duh, most missionaries are NOT third culture kids. I have no idea what it’s like to not live in the USA until I am 18, then thrown back into the USA to live. Quite frankly, that sounds terrifying.
Thankfully, many missionary parents are listening to this advice instead of throwing out: “Why are you writing this article? THIRD CULTURE LIVING IS PERFECT.”
They get it. Being a third culture kid is kind of wonderful but kind of restless, frightening, and odd at the same time.
What is sad is that homeschool parents cannot give us homeschool kids the same space that third culture kids have.
I half joked the other day about those who tell me to stay in North America because I’m too bitter to plant the church. But in all seriousness, most of my troll comments and emails come from homeschool parents who wish to inform me that NOT ALL HOMESCHOOLERS ARE LIKE THAT and I’M JUST BITTER.
I do not believe homeschooling is evil in itself or that we should pity homeschool kids or burn homeschool parents at stake. Conversely, I know that homeschooling can be an enriching experience, and that it offers more flexibility than public schools. I know first hand the positives of homeschooling, and the negatives of homeschooling.
So my message to the homeschool parents is this: Just bug off. If you’re not a homeschool kid, stop telling our stories.
Instead, I will repeat the advice one missionary parent offered other missionary parents. It’s so applicable to homeschool parents that I offer it back with direct quotes from the missionary parent. I have substituted HK (homeschool kid) for TCK (third culture kid).
1. Cool advice number 1: your homeschool kid’s experience will be different than your homeschool parents experience
Recognize that your [HK]’s experiences will be vastly different from yours. Maybe more positive, maybe more negative. They may not identify with your host culture as much as you do. They may identify with it more than you. Are you ok with that?
When our family drives by the US Embassy and sees the flag flying, my kids feel nothing. When the President visited Phnom Penh and we saw Marine One (the President’s helicopter) flying over the Mekong, I stood there and cried like a baby. My boys looked up at me and said, “OK, can we go eat now?”
Cool advice number 2: If you want to alienate your homeschool kids, tell them they are ungrateful.
One of the quickest ways to damage the heart of a [HK] is to outlaw negative emotions (grief, anger, disappointment, etc.). Tell them they shouldn’t feel something, or that they just need to suck it up, or that their feelings show a lack of gratefulness. Yup, that’ll do it.
But, and this is the great part, allowing a TCK to experience the full range of emotions is one of the most caring things you can do. It’s also one of the healthiest things you can do.
I found this comment from a third culture kid interesting. Sound familiar?
“My parents were often busy, and would give me lines like, ‘Living here is good for you! It’s something few other people ever get to experience. When you get older and look back on this time, you’ll be grateful for what you learned here.’ Their comments were well meant, but they didn’t know the depth of my pain.”
Again, both homeschoolers and third culture kids speak of their positive experiences. Both speak of their negative points. But currently, it’s considered acceptable for third culture kids to speak of both, but NOT for homeschoolers to speak of both.
Although, before I praise these parents too hard, I suspect if missionary kids group together and form a webpage of their own version of Homeschoolers Anonymous, missionary parents will get upset and say they are just bitter and ugly too.
But can we get rid of this defense thing, please? Because:
Cool Advice #3: We are not here to validate our parents ministry, emotions, or ego.
This one’s insidious. And devastating. But tying your validation to your child’s behavior (good or bad) is a socially acceptable form of idolatry. It has nothing to do with walking in obedience, and everything to do with looking outside of the Father for approval and validation.
We are our own person.