18 September, 2017

Explaining is a key part of parenting

It's a relief to finally be sitting at my desk during a work day with (almost) everyone gone from the house and with energy to work. It's been more than a week since that happened!
I also did this on the weekend: supported our two younger boys at
cross country. Parenting is hard. Parenting TCKs is also hard, with an
extra layer on top that we wouldn't have had if we've brought our kids
up in the country of their passport. Interpreting elements of both cultures
they are a part of is one part.
Another is that we are their only family in
the country, though I know that many children in their passport countries
never have extended family at important events (I never did).
But we do feel it's important to be there for them at events like sport.
TCKs have more transition in their lives than I ever did and we, as their parents,
are two of people in their lives that don't move in and out of their lives.

Here are some slightly random thoughts from the weekend:

As a parent you're always teaching. But I wonder if parents of third culture kids spend more time explaining? I've mentioned this before: helping them explore Australian food and translating for soft drinks.

Yesterday in a short period after church I found myself explaining to them several other people's reactions to them.

This month our oldest son has started playing guitar for the singing part of the service at church. Yesterday I chatted briefly with one of the young mums who told me that there was a lot of admiration for him from the young parent's group. 

When I passed this on to our son he was a little confused. First of all he didn't understand the Japanese word used by the lady, then he was thoroughly embarrassed by the attention and didn't understand why they admired him. We explained that parents of young children look at families with older children who are "turning out okay" and wonder if that will happen to their own kids. Even hope desperately that it will. That's why is it great to have friends in a variety of stages of life, it is a great encouragement to see that the stage you are currently in ends and there can be better things ahead. Once we'd explained this, he understood and was happier about it, even slightly bemused as he pondered what we'd thought of him when he was younger and looked at older kids.

We've also received a lot of positive comments from the staff at school about him. He's working 28 hours a week there on the maintenance team, doing all sorts of things from shifting heavy things around, to weeding, and cleaning air conditioning vents. Apparently he's really appreciated, not just for the work, but for his reliability and quiet, but thoughtful nature. I'm thankful that he's not only earning money, he's making himself useful and genuinely helping others. Not to mention that obviously he's encouraging others by his general character. 

I'm also thankful that he has this meaningful work to do in this period of waiting. It's good for his brain to have a rest before embarking on the next stage of the journey, which is going to be far from easy. I talked this afternoon to a Japanese CAJ mum who's son graduated with ours. He's gone to Canada and is finding life and study there very challenging.

Why are they staring?
The other reaction of our kids that I fielded after church yesterday was this:

"Why must old Japanese ladies stare at us?" 

In fact the boy that said this was quite upset. We were sitting at Mister Donuts waiting for our order and a couple of older ladies were having quite a stare at me and my three white boys. I politely greeted them and they replied in turn. Sometimes someone would want to have a bit more conversation than that (where are you from etc.), but yesterday these two just looked. It's an age-old problem for foreigners in a land where you don't look like the locals. 

I said, "Just smile and wave." But that seemed to upset him more. This did surprise me. I thought that they were used to this by now, having grown up here, but obviously this is something that is bothering this boy just now.

So there you go: my random thoughts for the day. Thanks for stopping by. I'd love to hear how explaining is a part of your parenting. What have you had to explain to your kids in recent days, about other's reactions to them?

1 comment:

PYonge said...

Each of our boys, as they went through the 14 to 17 year age range, got bothered by people staring. In our case, the boys themselves were Japanese - but sitting (in Mr Donuts or various family restaurants) together with these two gaijin. Back in the UK, people sometimes stare for the same reason!