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How Kids Flourish Abroad

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In this article, parents can see:

  • reasons for not holding back from moving abroad with kids
  • how kids will benefit from the change


“I want for my children what I didn’t have myself as a child.” How many a parent has said those words! It is a parent’s prerogative. Generally, though, parents are thinking of giving their children material things they didn’t have themselves as children.

Sadly, experience and factors that contribute to better mental/emotional development can sometimes be neglected as an inherent need for children. For example, as a kid, I always favored adventure and exciting experiences that formed valuable memories and lessons over having the newest clothes and toys. I think most kids feel that way. If they don’t, then all the more so do they need to emerge from their ever-thickening bubble. Moving or travelling abroad can help your children grow up with a more dynamic personality, greater understanding, and better common-sense.


Deprived of Deprivations 

Don’t hold back if the chief concern that brings hesitancy to move/travel abroad with your children is that you don’t want them to be missing out on material things they could have in their home country(if safety concerns in the country is your chief concern, that is entirely different). More rustic life for children is an adventure and a joy for them. Kids don’t base their happiness on what they have, but on what things there are to do. If the area abroad is more exciting than back home, your children will fit in there quickly, adapting far better than mom and dad in all likeliness.

We have talked to children living abroad with their parents extensively, from toddlers to teenagers, and the consensus we have seen is that they love being there. In fact, they generally aren’t very excited at the prospect of going back to their country of origin for any length of time.


The Dilemma of a Sheltered Life  

Many Westernized children of this generation spend a lot of time on computers, watching TV and playing video games. Due to this, their personalities and social/communication skills are underdeveloped. Many teenagers especially, have a constant lifeless expression on their face and talk in a monotone voice when dealing with non-peers. It is as if constant exposure to technology has sucked the vibrancy out of them. Have you noticed this startling rising trend?

Young people should be boisterous and outgoing . Instead, I find myself wondering where there on-switch is. That seems to be the case with Westernized children, many of them at least.

Conversely, children in developing countries experience real life, and are extremely outgoing, with dynamic personalities that will blow you away. This is mainly due to lifestyle.

Recently, I was looking at a picture of a squatter family (National Geographic October 2013, Manila). They were on a rickety platform on stilts over garbage filled water. Seven children and two parents. They were in a sad situation and a consciousness of this could be seen on the parent’s faces. On the other hand, as I looked at the children, it really struck me that all of them were smiling and happy, even a bit mischievous. Life was an adventure. Of course, this was an extreme state of affairs, and those kind of unsanitary conditions lead to a high mortality rate due to flourishing disease and lack of health care. But actually having little doesn’t seem to do much to impact the children’s development in a negative way.

I’ve spoken to kids who have had to sleep in the same room with several other family members, not even having a proper bed or bedroom. I asked them how they find it. They sincerely have told me it doesn’t bother them a bit. This whole “each person having their own bedroom” business is a perceived need that parents feel for their children. But, for a kid, what’s more exciting? Being alone in the dark? Or being together with your siblings or other relatives? It’s like a slumber party every night!

Friends of ours that are now adults but raised by their parents in developing countries, though originally from Canada and the States, are happy that their parents chose to raise them in this way. They grew up just fine. They are very capable to look after themselves and have a wide perspective of the world.

In travelling to different developing countries in Africa, the children there, though poor, are for the most part very content, curious and vibrant, oblivious to any apparent want their family is in. It is almost an unvaried fact: “poor” kids have more fun!

Some of these things can be achieved not necessarily by only moving abroad, but by simplifying and varying the lifestyle you have in your home country.

In reality, holding back from your children experiencing these is depriving them of the mental/emotional development that comes from, well…deprivations!

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Don’t Forget! 

Again, remember: your children are much more adaptable than you and will fit in faster and with more finesse than you will. As long as they’re not stuck in the house all the time and are able to spend time with other kids, likely you’ll find they’ll thrive more than “back home.”

If it is in your means and is something you would like to do, do not hold back from going abroad as a family for your children’s sake. Conversely, make it happen for your children’s sake.

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