4 Reasons Why I am Raising My Kids Abroad
First off, I want to thank you for even being here. Seriously! You! This is a big moment for me and YOU are the beautiful people I get to share it with!
I present to you, my new friends, the debut post of Bambinos Without Borders. TA-DA!!
Blogging is one of those things I never thought I would do… until I did. As are most things in life, Bambinos is the product of much hard work and is a collection of my global experiences. I hope to share with you some of my stories and lifestyle in the blogs to come.
I LITERALLY cannot contain my excitement anymore so let’s jump right in!!
Travel! Adventure! See the world! Chances are that if you landed on this blog, you dig at least ONE of those. And for some of us when it comes to travel, vacation is never enough! We crave complete immersion!
It sounds crazy, but what about moving abroad? It’s no easy decision to uproot your entire family to travel thousands of miles from home and chart out a new life in a new country. Raising children is hard enough as it is! Odds are, you are moving farther away from extended family (i.e., grandparents), you may never have visited that city before, and you may not even know the local language more than a few greetings.
It’s intimidating to say the least, especially when there are kids involved. Will it be safe? What is the air quality? What about school? Won’t they miss their friends? Will I be able to work? Will I make friends? Will both spouses be happy, especially if one is following the other’s career? What if I hate it?
These questions never go away. In fact, I’m willing to bet you’ll ask yourself most of those questions even if you’re moving to a new city in the United States. Military families – you know what I’m talking about.
My family took the plunge nearly three years ago when my husband was hired as a Foreign Service Officer for the U.S. State Department. After his initial training, we packed up our things and moved to sunny, landlocked Armenia, where the apricots are sweet and the vodka is cheap. It’s certainly had its share of challenges, but given the opportunity, I would make the same choice time and again.
I’m not here to say I have all the answers or even some of the answers. But I will share with you why I, a millennial mom (ahem, older millennial mom), am choosing to raise my children abroad.
So here it goes – my first “List of Reasons” post (because if you don’t, are you really even a blogger at all?)
**Disclaimer: I want to be completely clear that I go forward from here with no judgment or affliction. My choices and opinions reflect only myself. When I talk about my kids and all the amazing stuff they’ve done, I do so not to brag, but to use them as examples.
1. Exposure to world cultures and foods
When planning the whole move-children thing a few years ago, it was very important to me that they know what’s out there in the world before they become adults. You’ll hear me say this over and over again; the world is bigger than the self. And I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that my philosophy isn’t very popular in the United States right now.
I wanted them to see how people look different, act different, live differently, eat different foods, wear different clothes. To appreciate the fact that we’re all different and that we are all humans.
Since making The Move two years ago, M has visited 7 countries. He’s climbed on ruins of ancient Armenian monasteries. He’s eaten Georgian dishes like khinkali and khachapuri.
He’s explored Irish castles and danced in pubs to local musicians. He’s come face-to-face with a highland coo in Scotland.
He’s made friends with an old Greek man in a Cretan woodworking shop. And he’s wandered down sleepy cobblestone streets in Bruges.
I want my kids to look at the world with curiosity and exploration instead of fear and uncertainty. I want them to try new foods and new flavors because there’s so much out there that’s worth savoring.
2. Adaptability and Flexibility
If you ask me, having the ability to adapt to changing conditions is the pinnacle of intelligence. It’s LITERALLY how we evolved. Life is unpredictable and if you don’t change with it, you will be left behind.
I am not afraid of change because I am confident in my ability to handle it. While this is still something that’s hard to grasp for a three-year-old, small things we do now prepare him to do flexible in the future. Heck, A had a passport before she was a month old and on her first transatlantic flight at 6 weeks.
Of course, a routine is good for kids, but being able to flex with their environment is also important. As for my kids, as long as they have Mom and Dad, they know they will be safe, no matter what we’re doing, no matter where we’re staying. They are confident in us and therefore will be confident in themselves.
3. Language development
First off, I want to stand up and clap for anyone in the world who can speak more than their native language.
It is frickin’ hard to learn new languages when you’re an adult! I’ve tried. And failed quite a few times. It’s a considerably much easier skill to acquire the younger you are.
The benefits, however, are irrefutable. Children who learn a second language are more likely to have better linguistics later in life, have a higher cognitive function, high academic achievement, cultural enrichment, and social contribution. It’s also shown to foster greater empathy in children. There’s even research supporting that foreign language exposure to infants is highly effective.
Do you need to live abroad to teach your child a second language? No. Of course not. But the exposure is a heck of an advantage.
Heartwarming and convenient tale. Just this weekend while at the local youth soccer league hosted by the U.S. Embassy, I witnessed a perfect example of how language is so important in fostering relationships. The young son of a French diplomat showed up to play. He may be about 7 or 8 but speaks only French. I watched as he watched the other kids (who were speaking English) longingly. He desperately wanted to play but was intimidated by not being able to understand them. Noticing the boy, one of the coaches asked the group of children in his age group, “Hey! Does anyone speak French?” And sure enough, another boy perked up and yelled, “I do!” He invited the boy to kick the ball and before you knew it, he was running with the group with a beaming smile on his face.
4. Fostering that wonderful global outlook I keep talking about
I say it again, the world is bigger than the self. I want my kids to think about global issues as important. I want them to care when there is a famine or a genocide or frozen conflict. I want them to know the vastness of the world, of how big and amazing it truly is. I want them to be good global citizens, meaning they do their part to preserve our earth and treat everything and person on it with respect. (Seriously, is that too much to ask??)
Are they able to grasp this right now? No, probably not. In fact, they probably won’t for a very long time, but that’s not the point.
I realize that while these values may be important to a lot of people, most don’t have the resources to move abroad. And that’s OK! I recognize that our family has been extremely privileged to have the opportunity to live overseas as supported by the government. I get that.
All I’m saying is that it’s an opportunity often overlooked. Having kids should not be a barrier to travel; they should be the reason you travel more.
Get out. Get some stamps in bambino’s passport. Show them the world. They will be better humans because of it.
Raising kids abroad? What were some of your motivations for taking the plunge?
Hop over to my About page to get to know me better and learn more about the Bambinos philosophy!