Friendships and local community can be a vital part of our support system. Friends help kids develop socially and emotionally and help kids figure out who they are.
For TCKs, making and maintaining friends can have additional challenges:
Frequent mobility (from host to passport country and vice versa)
Loss of friends (mostly due to mobility!)
Impact of unrecognized grief (losses piled up without time or space to process them)
Cross-cultural assimilation and language nuances (layers for how and where TCKs fit in their different environments. (Identity Model)
TCKs also have skills and experiences that can help them navigate the challenges above and engage in making or maintaining friendships:
Being observers of their environments/people/cultural cues
Being listeners (paying attention to vocabulary, context, and cues)
Being willing to try new things (food, experiences, language, etc.)
Being multilingual (using their skills to engage new people)
Being open to differences in new contexts (although TCKs may need to be reminded of this quality in their passport country!)
In this technological age, it is much easier to maintain connections with friends they have made. Yet it is important that they pursue healthy friendships in their current location and put down roots in that community, too. Parents can encourage that by looking for peer groups with similar interests, valuing current and older friendships, and offering cultural coaching to explain distinctives of the environment where they are currently living.
For more help, look at Developmental Years Shape Kids’ Friendships.