TCKs are cool! Since you don’t want to be accused of being uncool by not knowing what TCKs are, you better go read our primer first, then come back. This post will still be here when you’re done. It’s not going anywhere.
TCKs or Third Culture Kids are, as you just found out, kids that grow up in two separate worlds and, at times, have difficulties feeling at home in either one. They may have trouble with grammar or spelling in one language but can often speak in two or three languages without any noticeable foreign accent.
Just typing that sparked a little jealousy in me. TCKs are definitely cool.
Before getting to the reasons why they exude so much cool everywhere they go, I want to share with you something that dawned on me last night as I pondered the fate of TCKs all around the world.
Ready for this? Jesus was a TCK.
He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: John 1:10-12
He can identify with all of the trouble and triumph that TCKs experience. He lived in one place (heaven) for a long time, moved to a new place (earth) on a mission from his father, stayed for 33 years where He was despised and rejected. He returned to heaven (in the resurrection) but promised all of His friends that He would come back soon and be with them forever.
Now then, other than TCKs being like Jesus, why are they so awesome? Here’s just a few reasons.
- They are like chameleons. They have the ability to blend into more than one culture. The know and understand the social norms. They’ve got a good hold on the dos and don’ts of both worlds. Just like any other chameleon, it may take them a minute or two to change colors, but they can and will. There are only two things that unmask the fact that our kids aren’t Portuguese: their names and their blond hair. When we go back to the States, no one would ever think that they weren’t American, because they are!
- They can speak and think in more than one language. I’m sorry, but if you can’t do that, you’re just not completely cool. If there is one thing that America lags behind in, it is a serious commitment to mastering a second language. Virtually everyone in the world speaks a second language, except English speakers. (Slightly off-topic but I think that has a lot to do with pride.) Speaking and thinking in a second language opens up brand new worlds of expressions and understanding and compassion. Let alone future job and/or ministry opportunities.
- They form close bonds with other TCKs, most notably their siblings. There’s a wonderful bond that my kids are forming with one another that I believe transcends the normal single culture family relationship. They speak the same heart language that shuffles from English to Portuguese and back faster than a Delorean equipped with a flux capacitor. They seem to have a secret code that belongs only to them. If it sounds a little bit like a super power, that’s because, well, it is and only TCKs really understand it.
- They’re very brave. Heroes in small packages are what I called my kids a few years ago. Staring down new challenges is something that third culture kids become used to. A new school. A new church. Being the only fill-in-the-blank is what they become. They are often trailblazers, and they don’t even know it.
There’s so much more that I haven’t even touched on yet. Maybe we’ll have to re-visit this next week.
What about you? Do you have other ideas or reasons why TCKs are so special? I’d love to hear more about them in the comments.