Sunday, December 1, 2013

Advice From Mom's with Expat Kids

I want to first say thank you so much to the terrific families out there that support their expat kids throughout this journey of ups and downs. You guys are great. We appreciate all you do for us and with us. There is quite a bit of trial and error for expats and families of expats as we all try to figure out what works best. I hope that this post sheds some light on things and spreads some ideas that will benefit you all. Thank you to Jill's mom, Donna, and to Pam's mom, Vanessa, for taking the time to share your wisdom.

Mom: Donna from Texas

Daughter: Jill who lived in Singapore and is currently in Scotland


1. What advice would you give to other parents helping their son/daughter prepare for a move like this?
  
I think the hardest part of a move to another country is emotional.  Those moving are apprehensive about moving to a strange place with different customs and possibly a different language. The parents are thinking about the distance and also the adjustment for the child moving to a new place.  Parents should make sure they have all the latest technology so they can FaceTime, Skype, talk without it costing an arm and a leg.  Both parents and children should do their research and learn as much as you can about the new country.

2. When do you think is the best time to visit your expat family?
  
I think parents should give their children time to get acclimated to the new country and also a chance to see and do things before visiting.  We probably waited too long to visit Jill but she sure was a good tour guide!!!!  The visit should be one to spend time with your child but also a great experience for the parents seeing and learning about a new country.

3. If they can only visit once a year, what time of year would you prefer your expat kids to come visit you?

I think that depends a lot on the family and maybe work schedules.  Holidays are usually the best because parent's have time off and often friends are in town visiting family.   Summer is fun too so you can do some traditional summer activities.  Bottom line is ANYTIME!!

4. What advice can you give families about staying in touch with their family overseas? Any particular phone plans or programs? Anything that didn't work so well? 

Stay in touch as much as possible.  Jill and I both have IPhones so we can text without it costing extra.  Jill and Ryan have a "Black Jack" phone through their computer which is inexpensive and for us like calling a US number.  Blogs are my favorite.  I can read Jill and her friend's blogs and see what everyone is doing and also lets me feel as if I know Jill's new friends.  Old fashioned mail is nice too.  Wish I were a letter writer but I know everyone still enjoys getting something through the mail.

5. In your opinion, what is the best way to handle Christmas/Birthday gifts for your expat family? 

Depends on the country, never had a problem sending Jill and Ryan things when they lived in Singapore.  The postage was a little pricey but they weren't ever charged fees.  Scotland is a different story.  They have always been charged fees for all the packages I've sent to Scotland so it takes the fun out of giving.  ITune cards were one of my favorite gifts since they would travel in an envelope but know they have Netflix so they don't need ITune cards anymore.  I think we are not doing Christmas gifts this year and do something special when they come home next.

I tried tickets to the Lion King when they lived in Singapore and the receipt fit in an envelope so tickets/gift certificate to something would probably be a good idea.  Ryan hated the Lion King so I won't do musical tickets anymore.

6. What advice would you give others who are traveling to visit their kids in another country?

Educate yourself on the country you are visiting.  I wish I had done more research on the history of Scotland before we went but thankfully my son-in-law was able to catch us up to speed.  Ask if there is anything they need from the USA and put it in your bags.

7. Any additional thoughts you would like to share?

It's hard having a child living far away and not able to visit but once or twice a year but just remember it isn't for always.  I'm just so glad that mine is so happy and feel so fortunate that technology allows us to visit daily.



Mom: Vanessa from Alaska

Daughter: Pamela in Scotland


1. What advice would you give to other parents helping their son/daughter prepare for a move like this? 

Be extremely supportive and don’t cry.  Look toward the adventure you will have when you visit your kids in a new country. 

2. When do you think is the best time to visit your expat family? 

Any time is a good time.  But call first before you buy your tickets and always make sure that they are aware you are coming, else you could be in Rainy Scotland while your kids are enjoying the cool ocean breezes of the Maldives. 

3. If they can only visit once a year, what time of year would you prefer your expat kids to come visit you? 

That is a hard one to answer.  I would want my other kids to come home to visit with them as well.  If there are school age children, then that puts you at the summer months and holidays.  Christmas being the second block of time off they may have.  You can’t count on Spring Breaks in the USA because I have children spread out and their time scheduled for spring break is varied.  So that means summer and Christmas holiday is the safest bet.

4. What advice can you give families about staying in touch with their family overseas? Any particular phone plans or programs? Anything that didn't work so well? 

Several ways to stay in touch with today’s technology.  Facebook, Myspace, Skype, face time are good ways to share pictures and information, plus see each other live.   Playing on line games together offers some recreational sport as well. 

5. In your opinion, what is the best way to handle Christmas/Birthday gifts for your expat family? 

Sending a care package of goodies is one way.   Shipping is expensive.  Buying gifts from a vendor in their area has worked very well, no worries about hidden fees and they get the merchandise promptly and with the correct electrical gizmo.  Sad to send them a $300 mixer only to have a 110 plug instead of 220 or whatever it is.

6. What advice would you give others who are traveling to visit their kids in another country? 

Pack light, take gifts and plan to shop while there.  You always bring back souvenirs.  I bought some heavier sweaters just for there and left them.  I figure I will get them back when they come back to the USA.  Don’t plan to many things to do.  Relaxing and visiting is just as much fun done in the living room of your family’s home as it running around and you’re not as exhausted.  Bring something from your home for them to enjoy in their home.   Family members gave homemade items for their new home in Scotland.  That makes the new home in a foreign country feel more homey!!

7. Any additional thoughts you would like to share? 

Sharing and communicating is key.  If budget is tight maybe meet them in a closer destination for a vacation for everyone.   I just think about the pilgrims on the Mayflower, people that had the guts to leave everything behind for a new land.   If the pilgrims could do it in those harsh circumstances without all the luxuries we have today, we can surely be supportive of our children’s success and enjoy the adventures of a new world without fear of never seeing them again.  Communication is easy and transportation although can be expensive, you can always wait for the special deals.

1 comment:

  1. Nice idea for a post. Enjoyed reading this.

    ReplyDelete

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