Parents who choose to live in other countries will inevitably be concerned about the effect on their children of living with and understanding the culture the encounter day to day. The mix of the culture from where they come and the culture of their new home creates a new culture of it’s own.Nannies who have been well trained are sensitive to both cultures can stop the experience being a confusing one and can actually be a live altering experience for them.A nanny can help these children develop an affiliation with there new culture that will broaden their thinking and allow them to see the world in a much more open sense than that of their peers that grow and build their early thoughts of the world from their experiences in their own back yard.

The extent of this cultural development will depend on those around them during this period and the country it happens in. Parents, their age, acceptance by local children and the child’s own acceptance of the experience, children often resent being taken from their own culture when they feel comfortable and safe, will all have an effect on the extent of the effect on the child.

There is a term commonly used for these children. They are called Trans-Cultural Kids (TCKs) but I prefer the term Multi-Cultural Kids (MCKs). They are usually the progeny of professionals such as military personnel, diplomats, business executives or missionaries, people themselves who seek the experience of other cultures and contribute in a unique way to their adoptive culture.

If the parents move from place to place in order to fulfill the requirements of their calling the children will develop a very independent personality, often becoming withdrawn or a loner. This is mainly due to difficulties in being an outsider at a point of development where there is great emphasis placed on friendship and fitting in. The child knows that the work involved in making a place for yourself within the relationships that have been developing over, sometimes years will be wasted as they know they will be moving on to the next host culture and they will have to start all over again. It is not easy for parents to have the kind of relationship with their children in this environment as they themselves are trying to adapt to the new requirements of the culture as well as the normal stresses of everyday life. A reputable nanny experienced with children experiencing a new culture can help them assimilate as they have been involved with this kind of problem before and know what to look for in the children if they are having problems and have practical ways of dealing with them that they know will work. They can often head off problems with the children before they surface which makes the experience less traumatic for them.

They can also help the parents understand what the children are going through giving them some insight into how to deal with the situation. After all, parents want the children growing up in this environment to appreciate the experience and not resenting them for it.

Here are some important things to remember when dealing with a multicultural child;

Preparation Period

Give your children as much time to prepare as possible. If you can make them a part of the decision to go or to the destination this will make the transition much easier. Give them as much information as you can so they can tell their friends about it and to help build the excitement. Give them time to say goodbye to friends and places they frequent even their favourite takeaway meals and school etc. If there are family pets that will be left behind make sure they are being cared for and the child is satisfied they are happy. When moving not everything will be able to come with you so it is important to allow the children to take some personal items but you will have to draw the line. Any items that need to be left can be stored or sold and the children can keep the proceeds.

Take plenty of pictures and video footage of friends, places and pets to take with you, as these will come in handy to help combat homesickness especially during the transitional period.

Transitional Period

Be aware that you and your children will go through a transitional period where they will become homesick for friends and the way of life they knew before. This is normal but you must talk to them about it. This can be magnified if the child has trouble at their new school or a trauma with their new culture such as an embarrassing experience due to their ignorance of the local customs. The problem can seem quite trivial to you but to a child who is already feeling vulnerable it can seem like the end of the world. It can also lead them to withdraw rather than risk another experience such as that again. Don’t force too much change to quickly. Allow them some normality by having things they are used to around the house. Don’t move to Japan and have them wearing kimonos and eating sushi every night.

Allow them to contact friends from time to time, especially at the beginning. Encourage them to write letters and send small gifts of cultural significance for their new home to friends and family back at their old home.

Cultural Identity

It is important for children not to just ignore their past in an attempt to have them adapt to their new environment. Children, as do adults, need that sense of identity and an attachment to their heritage can help them cope with any negativity they may experience in there new culture. Over time they will identify more and more with their adopted country. Talk to your children about the experiences they have and will have to help them be more aware of what is happening around and to them. Help them be aware of there cultural differences and be happy with them while respecting the idiosyncrasies of those around them. Embrace the new culture into your home and have fun with it with your children, this is the best way to help them accept it themselves.

Give your children the tools to remain in touch with their birth country. Newspapers, internet and email are important to the multi-cultural child. They can stay in touch with friends and keep up to date with news and events of their home country. This not only encourages ties with their home country but also helps them with the settling in period when they get back home.

Conflicted Allegiance

The expanded view multi-cultural children cultivate of the world may cause them to experience conflicts of allegiance as they develop a bond with their adopted country. They can find themselves defending their adopted country to people from their home country and defending their home country to their adopted country. It is important for them to understand that there is good and bad in all countries and they should look beyond boundaries at the issues in the discussion. Help them understand the issues from the other person’s perspective with their upbringing and cultural background in mind. This is all part of the experience for a multi-cultural child and part of why living in another country is good for the personal development of children.

Exit Plan

Don’t just shut up shop and go home. It’s the same as when leaving, you must plan your departure and consult with the children every step of the way. Once again allowing them to gather mementos and say their goodbyes. Look ahead to when you are home again at what troubles your children are likely to experience such as isolation due to the time they have been away and the wide range of issues they have dealt with in their time away they will feel different and have a different point of view based on their experiences. This is not a bad thing but must be talked through.


Try to make the encounter a positive on for your children and understand they are going to need more of your time than they did back in their home country. A lot of people in this situation employ the help of a nanny not only to free up time to spend with the children and explore there new home but to enhance the event for them. The nanny becomes more a member of the family than an employee and the children will form a special bond with them, as they will recognize their significant role in their adventure.More on Raising Kids

Talk, talk, talk. Communicate with your children every step of the way, offer them as much support and information you can and listen carefully to what they have to say. Be attentive to your children and the experience with be a positive one for all.