Monday, July 18, 2011

Learning to Follow a Third Culture Kid

Grand Central Station

The following is an article I wrote for this week's CCMI Newsletter. It's just another glimpse into the life of our family as we prepare for life overseas.  If you'd like to read the other newsletter content from this week, you can do so here.

"On Wednesday evening, after our second session with Jeff Marlowe, our oldest son came bouncing down from the youth group sweaty, red-faced, and grinning from ear to ear. He asked, “Dad, can I choose where we eat dinner tonight?” When I asked him what he had in mind, he was very secretive and assured me that he knew the spot and how to get there. He had obviously given it a lot of thought.

I have to admit that I was a bit skeptical at first, but it’d been a good day – and the family seemed up for the adventure with Joshua as our guide. He walked a few paces in front of us to the Queensboro Plaza station, where we boarded the 7 train toward Manhattan. We’ve been using the N train between Times Square and Queensboro, so this was a different route from the one we’d been taking.

Joshua looked up and grinned as we pulled into Grand Central Station. He said, “This is where we get off. You guys are going to love this!” He led us all over the station – recreating the tour that Ruthanne Burch had obviously given him earlier in the day. He showed us the main terminal, the room where you can whisper to one another across diagonal corners, and the big food court. As we walked, I pointed out that he’d seen parts of NYC that we hadn’t seen yet. I also complimented his good sense of direction and navigation skills. I was more than a little bit proud of him – and told him so. He puffed up a bit and rolled his eyes.

You should know that Joshua has really struggled with our decision to move to Japan. He’s 13 years old, which is hard in itself. He’s old enough to have a good sense of the things he’s giving up in this move, and he’s grieving that. Sometimes he grieves in a way that’s seasoned with faith, and sometimes (like me) he’s overtaken by fear and unbelief. It’s been hard and messy. We wish we could spare him this particular struggle, but we can’t. It’s part of the story that God has written for him. So we (like you) are moving forward and resting all of our weight in the covenant promises of God for us and our children – Joshua included.

Last Wednesday, God gave us a special moment as a family as he also taught Gina and me another lesson about parenting. I’m so glad we entrusted Joshua with the lead that night. Twelve dollar cheesburgers at rush hour in Grand Central Station wasn’t really what I’d have chosen for our dinner menu, but it was one of the best evenings we’ve had as a family since we’ve been in NYC. May God give us wisdom and grace as we continue to lead our kids toward our respective fields!"



  1. This is a beautiful piece, Jeremy. So glad Ruthanne posted the link. My husband and I never faced the challenge of moving our family overseas, but I think that any of us who have moved our children in response to the call of ministry can identify on some level with the dynamics on both sides. I'm sure my children would heartily agree that it was all part of the story God was writing for their lives. And how grateful I am to know that it is all part of God's greater story. And where else is there - other than God and His covenant promises - to rest our weight?
    Marty Davis

  2. Yes, they would agree!

  3. never heard of the term "a third culture kid". i guess i'm one. his will be a particularly hard one since he is older and the culture he is entering. i would highly suggest a meld rather than a complete culture change. the bad thing about being older is that u remember the shock and frustration of the whole experience.

  4. Note: The term Third Culture Kid or TCK is a relatively new term that's gaining a large following of late. The term is used to describe children who spend a significant part of their childhood in a culture different from the home culture of their parents and could apply to missionary-kids, military-kids, or a variety of other situations. For those interested in the subject, you might enjoy reading "Third Culture Kids: The Experience of Growing Up Among Worlds" by David Pollock and Ruth Van Reken.