Raising Up a Generation of Healthy Third Culture Kids: A Practical Guide to Preventive Care by Lauren Wells is a preventive guide that offers a whole toolbox of practical helps for parents of TCKs. This book is a recent addition to the SEND U wiki MK/TCK Resources page for the parents of MKs/TCKs. A few weeks ago, Sharon Wicker reviewed another resource from that wiki page.
Filling a gap
On this page are several books that have been go-to resources for years. They are tools that are great for helping parents and others to understand what a Third Culture Kid is. These books help us understand how growing up in a culture different from one’s parents will shape and impact who we are. Two books in particular do a great job describing what a TCK is. They are Third Culture Kids: The Experience of Growing Up Among Worlds by David C. Pollock and Ruth Van Reken and Misunderstood: The Impact of Growing Up Overseas in the 21st Century by Tanya Crossman.
These books and many others explain who the TCK is (the good and the bad), so that others can understand them better. But the whole emphasis is on the TCK. It is important to understand your TCKs and to be aware of who they are. It is also very important to be aware of both the challenges they face and the benefits they can experience as a TCK.
Until this latest book, there was a gap in the information being provided. Unlike most of the other TCK topic books, “Raising Up a Generation of Healthy Third Culture Kids” addresses the concept of preventive care. This book helps parents both understand the challenges and proactively help their kids prepare for and navigate those challenges. The goal is that they can avoid the pitfalls and come out the other side as healthy TCKs who are adaptable, hopeful and resilient. Healthy TCKs can enjoy the benefits of being a TCK instead of spending years trying to recover from the challenges they faced in their global experiences as a child. This book offers those tools.
Challenges and pitfalls
The book starts out by defining what a TCK is. Here the author references the work already done by the authors listed above. Wells lists some of the most common challenges that TCKs face. She also talks about the great benefits that they can experience because of the richness of their life experiences. She addresses the pitfalls we face if the challenges aren’t addressed as they come up. These include long-term impact on physical, mental, emotional and relational health as adults. The author begins each chapter describing what a “healthy TCK” would be able to do if they learn to walk through the challenges they will face. She addresses topics like learning to leave well, grief, transitions, identity, expectations, engaging in culture, shame, and healthy relationships.
The book is subtitled “A practical guide to preventive care.” Lauren Wells acknowledges that preventive care for TCKs can include many different elements. But in this book, she has identified some specific ones that families can focus on. These include pre-field training and education.
But she also discusses every-day care using the acronym CARE: Conversations, Awareness, Relationships and Example. She shows what the parent can do simply by being intentional in a few specific ways. Each chapter ends with several practical ideas of how to reach out and process or model what being healthy looks like in these particular areas. Lastly, the chapters end with a “Related Benefits” section. Here she identifies other benefits of proactively facing and growing through the challenges of TCK life. You will also find some questions to spur on additional thought.
Hopeful and encouraging
The author is honest about the challenges and possible long-term impact that TCKs may face. Though you may feel overwhelmed at times, the book overall is very hopeful and encouraging. The author seeks to equip parents with simple, practical tools so as to avoid the downsides and to fully enjoy all the benefits that growing up cross-culturally can offer. Be sure to check out this resource and all the other MK/TCK resources that are on the SEND U wiki.