“Ugh! If it weren’t for our kids we would….”
Have you ever started off a conversation that way? We sure have.
For most people, living in another country is certainly different from the average domestic life. It’s fun, exciting, and incredibly mind-opening.
But what about living in another country with kids?
Well this adds a whole ‘nuther big fat layer to it!
Like any parent, a lot of our decision making comes from thinking of what’s best for the kids. There are a few key questions that come up that every parent living abroad must answer.
The first question is…
What opportunities are your kids missing out on by not living a “normal” life?
This is the most obvious question. It’s common to see friends and family posting pics of baseball games and BBQ’s online.
It’s easy to think, “Are we really doing the right thing by not living in American suburbia?”
As we’ve thought about this question, we sometimes feel split. Is what we’re giving up by not living in the ‘ol cul-de-sac really worth it?
As we answer the question, we realize that our kids really aren’t missing out on too much.
We’re striving everyday to create a super rad childhood that they’ll look back on with fond memories. It’s the kind of childhood that we wish we had.
Questioning what the kids might be missing out on actually leads to a much more helpful question…
What kind of opportunities are your kids being exposed to living a life abroad?
This is the trade-off right? The ROI (return on investment) of living abroad.
What are our kids experiencing here that they actually could not experience by living a “normal” life?
Well, in a relatively short amount of time, our kids have:
- learned another language – my 7 year old is basically conversationally fluent and our 5 year old is quickly catching up
- become efficient little travelers even carrying their own backpacks
- become eager to go and see new places
- made friends in another country…in another language (the girls have found that laughter and just plain being fun works in any language)
- climbed ancient Mayan pyramids
- seen sharks and sea turtles at 105 feet below the surface on the world’s 2nd biggest coral reef system
- attended (still attending) private school with very personalized education
- grown closer to us…
You could say these are all things they could get on a vacation. Maybe.
But not nearly to the depth that they are by living it. Not nearly to the same level to where it’s becoming part of who they are.
By looking at the bright side of the adventure, there are actually so many benefits to living abroad. So many invaluable experiences that we just can’t teach in American suburbia nor by simply going on vacations.
There is one final question that really puts it all into perspective. But before I get to it, I want to point out something really cool.
We live in an amazing time where living abroad is possible to the average Joe!
My grandparents never would have thought of moving to the Caribbean and living there just because they wanted to!
In fact, most people today still haven’t caught on to that fact. You don’t have to be super rich or a broke shoeless hippie to enjoy the benefits of living abroad.
Even your average mom and dad with 3 kids can do it. We are. And we love it!
Ok, now for the final question…
What kind of people do you want your kids to grow up to be?
For us, we’re not raising our kids to be cogs in a machine. The old ways of education and job and stuff just aren’t working in our rapidly changing world.
We are raising kids who will grow up to be free-thinking, independent women with a global perspective.
Not only that, but they’ll have an entrepreneurial mindset with the ability to see solutions where others only see problems.
Our kids are learning that they have brothers and sisters all around the world. Not just in their cul-de-sac or soccer team.
It’s my experience that living abroad has given us so many opportunities that our family could never have living a “normal” life.
I suppose the final question would be, what kind of life do you want your children to have and what are you actively doing about it?