Arranging for our children to succeed in cross cultural settings means we need to have some idea of what “success” looks like in our family.
So the first step is to ask: What are we aiming for? What kind of children, teens and young adults do we hope to assist our children in becoming. Moms and dads may be very intentional and successful negotiating cross cultural spaces in their marketplace roles but become passive and reactionary when it comes to family organization. Mission statements, tactical plans, Getting Things Done (GTD) keeps them intentional at work. I’m suggesting a similar (not identical!) kind of purposeful intentionality about parenting our kids.
I realize that kids come in all sizes, aptitudes, and shapes and two genders also. Arranging for infants and toddlers to succeed will be different from assisting third culture teens to negotiate different cultures. Still, a family needs some criteria of success in order to assist one another in striving for successful living in cross cultural spaces. As your children age, establishing these criteria becomes a dialogue, a great theme for meal time discussions!
So, as a family inhabiting cross cultural spaces, you will need to be intentional about deciding exactly what success looks like for your family and for your children. Listing criteria of success is of course highly subjective and requires regular adjustment. Keeping the success categories broad and simple, though, is a way of keeping them priorities and remaining intentional.
Early on my wife and I decided that we hope that we and our children will learn to live God-centered lives, no matter where we find ourselves living or traveling. Among other things, this means we hope to assist our children in learning how…
- to live wisely and joyfully, and love God and others wisely and joyfully,
- to think well and communicate clearly, even with those very different from themselves.
- to seek to bless others intentionally, not just look out for themselves,
- to learn and practice personal responsibility, self discipline and self control.
- to recognize their God-given unique gifts, skills and talents and then use them to bless others and glorify Him.
- to recognize their limitations and to learn to handle failure and disappointment gracefully, even as they humbly recognize successes and deflect glory from themselves to their Maker.
You could call that a kind of family mission statement I guess though we never called it that. Surely, we’re not ready to declare it all a success, but these kind of aims have guided us as we’ve moved and lived in different places, learned different language, had different jobs, lived in apartments, houses, urban, rural, whatever, wherever…they’ve been kind of like pillars of the home wherever we live.
Under the “success categories” or really what amount to intentional training/coaching areas, you seek to arrange for your child’s success in appropriate developmental stages. So, while arranging for your infant to sleep successfully through the night is a good aim, by the time your child is 5 years old you should have raised the bar somewhat!
So, what does this have to do with living intentionally in cross cultural spaces? Well, quite a lot actually. More specifics on the way…(continued) REC