Raising global nomads

In Language, Personal stories by Carole Hallett Mobbs11 Comments

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Victoria Beckham by http://www.flickr.com/photos/lge/

Victoria Beckham

I was panting away on an exercise bike the other day reading an article in Glamour with Victoria Beckham . No, I don’t mean Vicky was pedaling away beside me, she was actually in Glamour talking about her kids.

She was like “Me and Becks are so proud of being British but the kids are American. They’re always telling us ‘oh you’re so British.'”

And my jaw literally hit the floor!

I mean God, yes, of course this resonated with me. Vicky and I are both global nomads, raising our children in foreign lands and doing our best not to culturally confuse them. But the difference is I don’t think my kids feel American, so that’s where me and Vicks differ.

Not a lot of people know this and I don’t like to brag, but Vicky and I go waaay back and even went to tap dancing classes together* before she became famous, moved to LA and basically wouldn’t return my calls.

It’s a shame that we lost touch as the parallels in our lives are simply staggering:

Vicky creates clothes for her fashion line, while I create crocheted rabbits

Vicky is a size 0 and I was once a size 0 (okay I was nine years old at the time)

Vicky has a blog and I have a blog

Vicky is married to a man with a high pitched Minnie Mouse voice, and ….my husband once sucked on helium and did a funny voice.

Sorry. Where was I?

I was going to talk about whether I think my kids (born in USA) are hopelessly confused about their cultural identity or not.

Hypothetical flag quartering the British and American flags

Hypothetical flag quartering the British and American flags by Lunar Dragoon

Well unlike Vicky I actually have relatives – or rather my husband does – in the USA so we celebrate all the holidays just like Americans. So that’s that cultural box ticked off. Vicky probably has to have her Thanksgiving catered and that’s just not the same.

One other thing – my kids don’t see themselves as British, American or Irish (husband is Irish) they just see themselves as a ‘bit of everything.’ Also they only have a slight American accent which is somewhat odd but there you are.

The other thing to note is – and here’s a tip for Vicky – maybe you need to employ a cultural translator for the family as I had problems initially in getting my kids to understand what I was on about.

For example when I first told my daughter to ‘put a sock in it’ she got a sock and said, ‘okay mum where do I put it?’

It was hard for the kids to understand that when I said, ‘stop farting around’ or ‘stop pricking about’ I wasn’t really talking about farting or pricking.

But as I explained the intricacies of English slang to my progeny I found they ultimately embraced many of my phrases while acknowledging that stuff like ‘now you’re as clean as a whistle’ didn’t make any logical sense.

So, there you have it. I feel that Vicky and I have now branched off into difference directions: her kids are American while mine are hybrids, but I still respect her and would gladly model something off her clothing line on this blog as long as it had an elasticated waist.

But enough about Posh. What about you? If you are bringing up kids abroad do you think they are culturally confused or do you think it is broadening their horizons?

*This is a bald faced lie

Republished with kind permission of Emma via Mommy Has A Headache: Raising Global Nomads.

Emma is a displaced Londoner now living in the States with her two little girlies and long suffering husband. She is the co-author of a hilarious parenting book, Cocktails at Naptime – www.cocktailsatnaptime.com Her mom’s an Austrian, her dad’s a Brit, which makes her a Britaustrian, or possibly an Austrish! She blogs at http://mommyhasaheadache.blogspot.com

 

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Comments

  1. And it just gets worse-or better,depending how you look at it-when you keep at this global life and you add multinational grandkids!

  2. My son was born in Scotland, my daughter in Netherlands, my hubbie speaks to them in Italian and I speak in Spanish.
    They dont feel Spanish or Scottish or Italian, they both feel a bit of everything too – my daughter even feels Dutch and she only lived there for the first six months of her life!!!
    They are surrounded by friends with different nationalities or backgrounds and they love it and I prefer that .
    I dont know whether that means they wont have roots and feel like they dont belong but at the same time, I dont want to impose my culture, traditions etc when its really difficult to live them and when we are moving every 3 years

  3. Yes, Carole, it seems:) he is too young for explanations like “you are simply a human being visiting this beautiful place just now”…It’s much easier if the couple is not mixed I find. But the most important is learning foreign languages in all he places they live, not only cultures but also languages.

  4. That’s not easy…my son was born in Austria, my husband is Israeli and I’m Polish, his first 7 yeras was about Austria, we moved recently to Monaco and I simply don’t know how will the things go. I was sure about one thing: I didn’t want him to think he is austrian, we discussed about it pretty often, now he is 8 and asked about nationality he says: half Polish, half Israeli born in Austria;)

  5. Pingback: Raising Global Nomads - Your Expat Child | Expa...

  6. We are all American, but my kids have never lived there (aside from the two months after they were born). They’ve lived in Russia, Albania, Indonesia and now Scotland. I have to admit we’re not great at imposing American culture on them, especially now we’re in the UK. They go to a local school here and we celebrate local holidays, and embrace Scottish culture completely. If we continue to live here until they are grown, I wonder if they would identify as Scottish? Right now they are both still small so I don’t know how much they think about their cultural identity. I expect it will become more of an issue for them when they enter adolescence.

    1. Interesting. It will be intriguing to hear back a few years down the line! Have they picked up the accent at all?
      My daughter is in an International school at the moment and I’ve noticed for a long time that her English language is almost totally Americanised now. This seems to be due to the American style of English as a Foreign Language teaching that the other nationality children have.
      There are many idioms I use that she just doesn’t understand as they are particularly British. I find it fascinating explaining something that I’d never looked into too much.

      1. They have a definite Scottish accent now! It’s cute. Interestingly, we lived here a couple of years ago, and my daughter developed the Scottish accent, then when we were in Indonesia and they attended the International school it went back to totally American. Now that we’re back in Scotland they are both sounding Scottish!

      2. How cute! It is a form of adaptation, I guess, a way of fitting in.

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