Third Culture Kid Dating; adults who have spent their developmental years outside their parent's culture

When a Military Kid cries.


As some of you know, I am what they call an adult ‘Third Culture Kid’ or TCK. Born in Tokyo, I lived in Dusseldorf, Johannesburg, Vienna and Hamburg before the age of 18.  And the reason I moved around so much growing up was because of my dad’s job in an international company.  He started off in sales and then worked in different roles in the company as a manager.

I enjoyed our multicultural childhood and moving around was just a huge plus!  I think it might all have been scarier if I’d had to deal with the moves alone. But because our family was so close and tight-knit, those departures just felt like a new adventure for the five of us.  What I didn’t realize is how much harder it could have been on Military Kids (MK). There are so many reasons why kids grow up outside their passport country, from missionary work to working as a diplomat to freelance work and the list goes on.  However, it seems that for Military Kids or what some call ‘Military Brats’, not only is there a fear of leaving their friends, schools, teachers and homes at any time, but also there is also the fear that the person they love might never return.  If one of their parents is serving the armed forces, there’s a risk involved.

I never had to deal with this sort of fear. And I can’t even imagine what that must have been like as a child. I realized how much of an effect and impact it could have on Military Kids when I saw this video.  I’m not one to cry, and I definitely teared up watching that clip. You can just tell how much that boy missed his mother. And how much emotion there is in his reaction when he tears up.

My dad was away once or twice a month for four or five days on business trips. Yes, it was sad as a kid. But my siblings and I always knew he’d be back. So it was very different for us. And he’d always bring back a French magazine from the airport or a small key chain from his travels that we started associating his trips as something great to look forward to. That’s the thing about being a kid. It’s the small things! And whenever he’d come back, walking through our front door, we’d all run over to him. And there was always something special about that.  However, some Military Kids have to say goodbye to one of their parents for several months or more. It just shows how much resilience you must build up as an MK.  That goodbye has more weight to it too because there is a real sense of danger involved with them going on that mission.  I’m curious about their experience as I didn’t go through it myself, and will continue researching the topic!

Military Kids, Missionary Kids, Third Culture Kids, Cross Culture Kids, what are your own thoughts about this?


2 thoughts on “When a Military Kid cries.

  1. Im a military “brat” and yes, it was pretty hard at times. While I lived in other countries with my parents, there were times where (after a move to a new place) one or both of my parents would need to go to an entirely different location for a couple weeks/months. There wasn’t really time to prepare for that kind of separation either. I remember crying a lot. However, like you said, the little things (gifts with a parent’s return or packages/letters in the mail) really helped me deal with it. There was a long period where neither parent left on a solo trip like that… and then when I was a late teen, it happened a few more times. I thought that as an older, experienced child I could deal with it, but I still had moments of intense loneliness. In any case, it happens to many of us, and we get through it! Thanks for writing this!

    • Thank you so much Nshanti! I can imagine that must have been hard having them leave like that. And like you said, it’s not as if you have plenty of time to prepare, discuss it and so on. It just happens. And you have to deal straight away. I find that tough.

      I’m not surprised that you found it just as hard (or harder) as a teen. I felt the same way. I think it’s that you have a better understanding of what is actually going on. And that is scary.

      But like you said, of course, we go through it and make the best of it. It’s all we’ve ever known! 🙂

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