Friday, September 12, 2014

One Easy Thing You Can Do To Help Your Kids Adjust to a New Culture

“The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.”  William Arthur Ward

With the beginning of the school year I've been meeting folks from different countries and backgrounds and that is a wonderful thing about being part of an international community.  After we all settle in our new routines and become more comfortable with each other, the season for the expats' national sport will begin.  And it's true, if we expats were a nation we would have a national sport: complaining about the host country.

Ok, we all need to vent once in a while and it's great to find a sympathetic audience.  Everyone has funny or horror stories to tell about a situation where our cultural differences have played us a bad hand.  But it is unfortunate if all our conversations become just that.

Take into consideration that your children are also trying to adjust to the new culture, and if you're constantly bashing the way things work and how people think or act, your children will mimic your behavior and will dismiss the locals at school negating themselves the possibilities of new friendships.  They'll believe the locals are as terrible (or as great) as you describe them.

One of the benefits of living abroad is learning to adjustand that skill will serve your children well, way beyond their expat years.   Some kids are more forgiving and adjust a lot faster than adults.  Some others take their time to figure out their new environment.  But perceiving your positive attitude towards the move in general will help them accept this change and be more open to the new experiences.

Wether you moved full of excitement to live in a new country, following a spouse or for a great job opportunity, remember that  there is no better way to learn about your host country than befriending the locals.  

So stop! Stop before you say something negative about the host country.  And about those who never get out of complaining mode... the other day I read that successful people stay away from negative people the same way you would move away from a smoker if smoke bothered you.  Not a bad strategy at all in my humble opinion.   What do you think?

Arrivederci for now,

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