Unresolved Grief and How to Overcome It: Part 2 with TCK Expert, Dr. Ruth Van Reken

As parents, we have the best of intentions and we want our children to thrive in the midst of transitions. However, we’re also dealing with our own roller coaster of emotions and so many other things. In this episode, we help you reflect on what you can do to support your TCK (and yourself better).

For instance, as a TCK parent, you might ponder questions like:

How do you comfort your children who might be excited to move for the first time, but who also feel the deep loss for everything they’re leaving behind?

How do you prepare them emotionally to say goodbye to their friends?

In today’s episode, we’re exploring parenting tips for TCKs, and I have the pleasure of being joined by Dr. Ruth Van Reken. As a TCK, Dr. Ruth has had a rich life with numerous cultural experiences but it wasn’t until her thirties she realized the amount of loss that came with this lifestyle.

The loss of home, identity, and loved ones. This loss led to significant grief which we spoke about in depth in Part 1: Unresolved Grief and How to Overcome it. It is in part 1 that we learn Dr. Ruth’s tool for overcoming this unique, unspoken grief.

Dr. Ruth is a second-generation Third Culture Kid, a mother of three adult TCKs, co-author of Third Culture Kids: Growing Up Among Worlds, 3rd ed., and author of Letters Never Sent

For over thirty-five years, Ruth has traveled extensively, speaking about the impact of global mobility on individuals, families, and societies, including what we now refer to as Cross-Cultural Kids (CCKs)—children who grow up cross-culturally for any reason. She is a co-founder and past chairperson of Families in Global Transition.

Ruth’s research and writing have given a voice to TCKs and helped all who support them make sense of their experiences and help them use it to their advantage.

As we approach the time of year I like to call the “great migration,” when our TCKs say goodbye to their friends and move to new places, us parents are bound to feel a roller coaster of emotions.

As an adult TCK, raised by a TCK, and a  parent to TCK’s Ruth has a plethora of knowledge we can all learn from.

Here are some highlights that Ruth shared with me:

  1. The biggest mistake parents make with their TCKs
  2. The best way to emotionally prepare your TCK to say goodbye
  3. Cultivating traditions as a way to help your TCK find identity
  4. Journaling as a way to process emotions
  5. Adapting to a new language as a TCK

If you know a family who is preparing to move, I encourage you to share this episode with them so that they can absorb the immense knowledge Dr. Ruth has on helping TCK’s make sense of their experiences.

Just remember, you are not alone in this experience. Whether you’re traveling back home, relocating, or going through a reentry process, Girafe Coaching newsletter provides invaluable guidance to help you transition with ease. Gain the resources you need to fully support the well-being of yourself and your TCK this moving season. Make sure to sign up here!

Experience the joy of fulfillment, purpose, and more joy to reap all the benefits of the expat life. Take the first step here towards your best life no matter where the world takes you!

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