I am a logistics expert. I anticipate, make 20 plans a minute for the next 30 years and modify them constantly in order to feel in control, prepared…I try to understand this world, others and myself. In my eyes, this world and others are quite fascinating.
Every day I enjoy developing further my training programs for The Right Latitude.
Through it, I share my experience and analysis with others as they are embarking on their new adventure in our little red dot. It rewards me to give grounding and a sense of belonging here in Singapore. To me, this is The Right Latitude! (check out my Orientation services to meet your immediate needs to settle-in and my Everyday Life training sessions).
After discussing work & culture related issues in previous articles I would like to shed light on the family part of the relocation process.
There are several topics one would need to consider depending on their personal situation. Today, I will share my experience as a mother of two girls “abroad”.
At home, I am a bit of a mothering tiger mum. It is probably a bit much for my kids, but as time goes by they got used to me. I am very lucky to have two healthy and smart girls who understand me I think as much as I understand them.
After girl number one, we are now entering girl number two’s “teenage marshland”…
I have been so far able to maintain a good level of communication with my first child and openly admit that I do not miss the nappy, crying, and runny nose wiping period. It was fulfilling in a way, I am glad to have done it… and glad to get to another stage of my life with them.
Back to the point: growing children abroad.
In order to address our move from the UK to Singapore (very much desired and anticipated by us adults), I made a conscious effort to keep all of my young girls’ toys, drawings, pearls, and nicknacks that drive me crazy but seemed to be essential to them (“yes of course, I need to keep this sticker!!”). Result: it worked!
Both girls felt the reassurance that “their home” would be there for them no matter what country we moved to. It helped them feel confident enough to conquer the world: their new school. With its many social challenges, they managed to ride the wave, evolve and grow-up.
The untold truth to remember in the expat community: it is only temporary.
Most “expat friends” will become “long-distance friends” at some point and sometimes very unexpectedly. For the ones that are in Singapore on a longer-term basis: watch for that being left behind blues. Girls learned quickly the importance of the time zones when reaching out to previous friends. Advice: make as many friends as possible from different backgrounds. Result: it is still working.
This has many benefits. Having friends from several communities (extracurricular activities, neighborhood, school, community center…) is like spreading the odds, hedging your emotional exposure…and gaining a great deal of knowledge at the same time! Cross culture awareness here we come.
So far so good, I am in control, life is good but gradually, stealthily come the teenagers. Gone is the time when I could cure a worry with a kiss or a sticker. Without realizing it, as I became more confident “solving” most of girl number one’s social insecurities, I did not see girl number two coming around the corner…
Of course, silly me, as many mothers before me, I did not see my last child grow up.
Now I am in the middle of it: arguing, sending her to her bedroom, wondering what mood she will be in the next time she comes out… Needless to say, the situation does not bring the best out of me. What do I do?
The solution came to me one day as I was determined to get her a good haircut. Her head was (along with her behavior) becoming out of hand. We walked in the salon both tense but when we walked out… I heard: “mum I like it, I am not scared of change anymore!” in that instant, I choked inside. The rest of the week was a breeze and enjoyment for both of us: Result !!!
To the parents of “expat children” here is my new advice: sometimes change is not the result of a move or a new environment, but simply the natural change one child has to overcome on its way to adulthood.
Good luck to everyone and thanks to my two wonderful girls for making me the wiser albeit imperfect person I am today.
Photo by Joshua Earle on Unsplash