Birthing and raising kids abroad can be a most rewarding decision ever. We know: the lack of efficient medical system is not the only reason why the ‘who know whos’ of the society are jetting out to birth their kids abroad. It pays to be a dual citizen biko!
Generally, kids raised abroad have a broader perspective of the world, they get to see and experience the diversities of culture and people. Most kids raised abroad would likely speak two or more languages or at least learn a new dialect. Benefitting from a better educational and social set up would put them at an enviable edge among their peers. The advantages of these are so enormous that it could be related to cultivating a greener pasture for their already bright future. Yes, they won’t be seeking greener pastures everywhere like us. Poor us! We would make do with a lemon one.
Behind this tokunbo is favored mentality is the sorry impact overseas lifestyle could have on children’s ability to cope in their country of origin. This can be so, if throughout the stay in resident countries, homecoming is not planned into their lifestyle. These kinds of kids may see holidaying in home countries as an exile. They may feel like an alien in their own land. They would likely detest the ‘back to the roots’ idea and choose to remain migrants forever. Because we don’t know of anyone who would be glad to be a stranger in his homeland, we present few tips employed by parents to ensure their children have a relatable and familiar homecoming experience.
Inculcating cultural values; dress sense, lifestyle…
They are in Rome and they act like Romans, but by their wears, you shall recognize them. Something I appreciate most about Afghans and Pakistanis I have come across is the featuring of their native attires in their dressing. A week is not likely to slip by without an Afghan donning his khet partug. Their children also look adoring in their shalwar khameez styled dresses. If they can be so dressed, in foreign lands where fashion is fast becoming Eurocentric, how can it be a difficulty to rock the look in their homeland?
By inculcating traditional values and lifestyles, parents can raise children who would thrive glamorously in their indigenous environments despite being born or brought up abroad.
A summer holiday, or a permanent return to the home country could become more exciting and worthwhile when kids have been used to the local foods. Of course, living in a place where you have limited food choices is difficult.
The courtesy system, native songs and dances, dress sense and fashion which had been formerly introduced to children would not bore them off and make them homesick of the foreign land.
Language; the connecting factor
Our estate is a foreigner based residential area where almost every national from different parts of the world could be found. Swahilis, Hausas Arabs, native English speakers, Turks, Chinese, Japanese and almost every national from different parts of the world have come to the Persian city as expats, students, researchers, businessmen and tourists. So, it is not strange to find a group of school aged immigrant children playing_ football, hide and seek or practicing their kung fu skills. All of a sudden, a Tunisian boy would say kama da shi (meaning: catch it) and his Kano born friend would scream kabi da bi (meaning: your turn). What did I just hear? They were speaking Hausa ooooo!
Witnessing such scenes a couple of times, I felt prouder to be a Nigerian.
Hausas are not the only Nigerians here, but they are the only group who communicate in their native language, as in, full-time with their children. Meanwhile the children speak Persian fluently. Yet, they’ve learnt to speak Hausa just like their fellows in Kaduna, Maiduguri or Sokoto. What’s more? The language has become so natural to them that they do not only speak among themselves (as opposed to Yoruba children who communicate with one another in Persian or rarely; Yoruba) but with other children of other tribes and nationality. Surely, their acts is not intentional but..
Trust children! the language became so popular among their peers that many started learning two or more words.
In this scenario, the children have not only unconsciously registered their language in the minds of their peers, but have shown that their mother-tongue can never cause a communication problem whenever they travel home. While many of their peers can’t scream “Help me” in their native language, most of these children can speak Hausa fluently, despite being born and bred in a foreign land.
Imagine an Adunni Ade in Yoruba movies if the only language she speaks is English. Joker you say? But despite her biracial background, years of study and living abroad, she speaks Yoruba with a charming fluency we can’t but envy.
Get them updated on news and events.
As parents, you are conversant with happenings and events back home; good for you. You won’t be doing bad by exposing them to news, events, festivals and activities in your home country. Despite running an expat life influenced by 3 calendars; Gregorian, lunar and solar, our Chinese neighbors make it a ritual to celebrate the Chinese new year. This affords their children the self awareness and cultural recognition needed to boost their self confidence. These children, on returning home would revel in the more glamorous festival rather than become astounded.
Children living abroad should as a matter of necessity know the important dates, events and festivals of their countries of origin. Though they may not have the full information, they should have an idea about the calendar system, independence/national days, religious and cultural festivals etc.
Put them in the official realm
Many children living abroad would sonorously sing the national anthem of their resident countries, yet, can’t relate with the tone or lyrics of their home country’s.
Without sounding presumptuous, I am grateful I had the intuition to teach my son the Nigerian national anthem while he was a preschooler. Now, he proudly recites both the first and second stanzas while his older friends (who haven’t been taught) marvel at his ability.
Teaching children the flag, national philosophy, currency denominations and so on is a right path in formally adapting them to their country’s systems. It is not only a matter of inscribing patriotic feelings in their hearts, it is more of raising a child who would have a natural acquaintance with their roots and proudly defend his identity.
Prepare them for the great return
Haaaaaaa. Some parents may laugh this one off. They are American citizens! There is no great return for them except adventures!
Well, you may be sure of their citizenship and rights. You can never be sure of politics, economics, laws and its dynamics, wars and epidemics. The world and its people are so unpredictable you won’t want to be found wanting. In this life, the banished do get to return and rule, just as the lost get traced. Before long, sons of the land may be referred to as refugees, because they have no evidence to prove their kinship.
Even if the possibility seems unrealistic, let them be aware that there’s always a home besides the current one. If they never needed to return, so be it. And if they do return, at least they wont be an ‘alien’. An adage says: He who lost his home, saddles a pouch of suffering.