TCKDating

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


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Dr. Ruth Useem’s Research on Third Culture Kids: “TCKs 4x more likely to get a Bachelor’s Degree”!

Dr. Ruth Useem spent a great deal of time researching the effects that third culture kid experiences has on them as adults.  You can find out more about her in my previous post!  In one of her research studies, she collected 700 questionnaires from adult TCKs http://www.tckworld.com/useem/art2.html.  In this sample of adults, “82 percent lived abroad both as pre-teens and teenagers” (Useem & Cottrell, 1999).  They found that in the majority of families, the primary employee was the father. 

They also found that 81% of adult TCKs had a Bachelors degree.  Useem and Cottrell also found that a great number of these adult TCKs had changed majors two to three times at university.  Some dropped out of university to take up an opportunity that arose.  They go on to discuss how adult Third Culture Kids never fully adjust, instead they adapt to the new community or find niches to settle into.  From the answers they collected, they learned that we as TCKs do not want to be encapsulated.

I found the following quote they used to describe adult third culture kids so accurate: “Their camouflaged exteriors and understated ways of presenting themselves hide the rich inner lives, remarkable talents, and often strongly held contradictory opinions on the world at large and the world at hand”.  I think this is so true. We have had to adapt so much that we can mold quite quickly into the setting or group of people we are with.  However, this can also cover up a great number of aspects of our personality, thoughts, and opinions.   Is it perhaps true then that we can only show our fullest and most complete self with our family and perhaps others like us?

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Who coined the term Third Culture Kid or TCK?

I recently stumbled upon the ‘founder’ of TCK research, Dr. Ruth Hill Useem.  You can find the full article on the TCK World website http://www.tckworld.com/useem/home.html.  She did a Phd in Sociology, Anthropology, Social Psychology, and Psychology in 1947.  She moved to India with her husband John Useem to conduct research and returned a second time with her three sons to do a study on overseas Americans.  It was from this research and these life experiences that they coined the term ‘third culture’ and later ‘third culture kid’.  She started publishing her research on third culture kids in the 1960s.

Dr. Ruth Useem did research on expat populations and overseas communities.  She travelled to over 70 countries to do her research on TCKs.  She has worked on or helped contribute to 30 different doctorate dissertations on third culture kids.  Her main focus was looking at the impact that living abroad as children has on them as adults.  Her findings were fascinating and more of her reports and articles can be found on the TCK World website.  On one project in particular, she collected 700 questionnaires from adult third culture kids ages ranging from 25 to 90. Each questionnaire consisted of 20 pages of questions, which shows that she collected a great deal of information from these Adult TCKs!  In the next posts, I will bring up the findings she came up with when looking at adults who had spent the majority of their developmental years outside their parent’s culture.Image