Nov 122009

Much was lacking in support for me to adjust to a new culture and country as a child of 7 years. Looking back, various approaches would have been helpful for me, and could help someone in a similar situation now.

On top of the list would be communication before and after the move regarding expectations. A child should be informed well in advance of the move and be told stories of life in the new country. Anything to reduce shock for a child should happen. If a visit can not happen first, pictures could help some, along with much discussion about how daily life would be different. Maybe some education in the new language could begin before the move?

The parents should have a sense of what they want to hold on to culturally and what they are willing to adapt to. What language do they want spoken at home? What rituals do they want to They need to be on the same page with each other and be able to communicate their shared cultural interests to children accordingly. The message I grew up with seemed to be that just about everything in the US was bad and should be resisted and fought. But then why had we moved here? That part was not quite discussed.

It was confusing for me to grow up in the US, but be made to feel I was being raised in a specific India that was my parents' static vision; while the culture in the actual country was evolving and many were trying to emulate their idea of the western culture.

Unfortunately, when children are made to feel they should resist their new culture, they end up feeling isolated and alone. They can not take part in the culture around them and don't have a sense of how to function in their new world. I later learned on my own what I valued from the two cultures I was growing up with and still am. The word eclectic took on new meaning.

My son at a McDonald's in Delhi

My son at a McDonald's in Delhi

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