What's it like raising your child in a different culture? I hear this question quite a bit, and there's usually a fair amount of apprehension behind it. I could outright lie and say there aren't any challenges at all. But the fact of the matter is that parenting is tough. Wherever you live. And living in a culture which has (sometimes/many times) different parenting approaches can make things a little more, well, adventuresome for us.
Of course there are challenges and heartaches, especially living far away from our blood family. But in a country where everybody is your auntie and uncle, our boy is rich in relationships. When unsolicited parenting advice comes from our well-meaning neighbors, I have had to learn to keep smiling, not take it personally, but also consider what's being suggested. There's a lot we can learn from each other. I can't give our boy the newest toy or take him to the BIG toy store, but is that really a bad thing? He's learning that life is about people, and he's learning how to have fun with even a stick. Add an empty water bottle, a few buddies, and there's a whole day of fun.
I heard recently how multi-national companies are searching for employees who grew up cross-culturally. Their reasons are smart and simple. People who grew up in a cross-cultural context know how to navigate through multi-cultural situations, not to mention the maze of Heathrow Airport! Usually they have increased language aptitude, if they aren't already proficient in two or more languages.They are comfortable with people who may look, act, or think differently and can recognize the value that people from different backgrounds bring to the work table. In this ever-increasingly flat world, companies are looking for anything that will give them an edge, and globally savvy employees are a key component to their solutions.
Now I'm not looking for our boy to land a multi-national job anytime in the near future! But I'm thrilled to be mom to a global child. Love the lessons that he's learning at such an early age. That life is about relationships. That life is not something you watch on TV but something you experience with your best pals. That food and life are best enjoyed when you share it with others. And that there's always room for one more person in the rickshaw...