I was in an online ‘expat’ conversation the other day when someone suggested we do our children a disservice when we don’t assimilate to our host country. I agree with her, and go one further to ask if perhaps, even when we try to instill a “bit of the old country”, it might not help? It’s a fine line.
Expat Brit, author, blogger and artist, Emma Kaufmann has lived in the States for thirteen years; she is English and her husband is Irish. She says – “I think a lot of whether you assimilate or not depends on what state of mind you are in when you come to this country. A lot of spouses are brought here with their husbands (I have seen it the other way around but it is mostly thus) and they are homesick, so cling like a drowning (wo)man to the old country.
Typically if you are here for a short while, like a few years maybe, many expats in the US think that this is just a stopgap and that they will go home soon. This makes it impossible to assimilate and it’s therefore really not a very positive experience for anyone.”
Emma makes a great point. While many expats experience difficulties in new locations, they probably don’t realize how much this can affect their children’s experience. A common reaction to culture shock or homesickness is to blame everything on the host country or to insist that things would be better if only you were in - insert name of “home” here. If your children weren’t even born in your “home” country, this can be particularly confusing or upsetting for them. They may feel disloyal by not hating the host country quite as much as you do, or by not having the same feelings about “home”...