The transition from childhood to adulthood can be an exciting time for a young man or woman between the ages of 13 to 19. But it can also be a confusing time, with all the emotional highs and lows many teens experience – the crushes, long talks on the phone with friends (or should I say, texting?), parties, heart-breaks, physical changes and testing the limits. How far can I go? Should I take a little sip of that drink? Should I try that cigarette? Should I take that picture? What if my peers won’t like me? What if that boy won’t like me? Do my parents really know anything?
My teen years are so far behind me. I lived through them and wished I had been more confident and prepared to make wiser choices in the face of different teenage traps along the way. And now I am a mama of a 13 year-old. Some of the pressing questions I have had as I have approached this season have been: How will I prepare this child for all the physical, emotional and social changes she is about to face? What can I do to set her up for success and help her become confident in who she is as she faces the challenges that will come her way?
It is a long book. I have about five more chapters to go. It is about a Third Culture Kid named Jim. He is a white boy who was adopted by a Crow (Native American) tribe. This book is about his quest to find out who he is and where he belongs.
My husband read it out loud to my children and my children loved it. Somehow, they were able to identify with Jim, the main character. They read several pages each night as part of our bedtime routine read-a-good-book-aloud tradition; so once they were all done, I decided to read it for myself. It has been difficult to put it down. I can also identify with Jim.
I miss my full time house help: 8 hours a day for five days a week. She cleaned, washed clothes, prepared lunch, loved and cared for my kids. Oh… I was so spoiled! Sometimes I ask myself: Why did we move to the US?
It is culturally acceptable even for lower-middle class families to hire full or part time help in the home. For foreigners, it is almost expected. Labor is cheap in the developing world. Work is also scarce, even for highly educated people living in urban areas, not to mention people who live in rural areas. I needed to run a home in a hot, humid and dusty environment where floors needed to be swept and mopped daily and clothes and sheets got moldy – not to mention we did not have a dishwasher nor air conditioning, and had to hang clothes to dry on a line because electricity is really, really expensive. That was my “old normal.”
A very useful tool in preparation for our departure has been the book Third Culture Kids. In Chapter 4, the author writes about the following five stages of transition: Involvement, Leaving, Transition, Entering and Re-involvement. I will summarize each stage:
Involvement: comfort, belonging, familiar, settled. Our status is clear and we know our place. We know and follow the social rules, customs and traditions.
Leaving: ending, detaching, pain, backing away, confusion, denial. Our time is coming to an end and we begin to detach from responsibilities and relationships. Continue reading