5 signs you are raising a third culture kid

Disclosure: This is a collaborative post and contains a sponsored link.

If you’ve lived in more than two countries with your family, the chances are your children are TCKs.  But what does that mean?  I've teamed up with Allianz Care to explore this topic further. 



In an increasingly global business world, there is a generation of children growing up as third culture kids (TCK). In the past, these children were largely linked to those serving in military posts abroad. More recently, third culture kids are being raised by parents in a wide range of industries as experience working abroad becomes more and more attractive to employers. Expat children are also becoming more exposed to the culture of the country they are living in.

What is a Third Culture Kid? 

It is the name given to children who are raised in cultures other than that of their parents or the one that may be on their passport.

Sound familiar to you? Here are some other ways to tell if you are raising a third culture kid:

1) They are multilingual 

Many TCK’s may speak more than two languages, especially if you and your partner speak different languages and a third is spoken in the country you are living in. You may find, depending on how integrated your children are in terms of education and social life that they speak all three.


2) They flew before they had teeth 

It’s likely your third culture child flew long before they could walk. You are likely to have memories of getting through security, baby in arms while folding a stroller, chasing them down narrow airplane aisles, as they crawled away, or trying to soothe your baby as they had a meltdown just as the cabin lights were turned down for the night.

3) They have friends in 3 different countries 

This is particularly true if you have had a few international assignments, where the end of the school year often means a move to another country. While leaving can be sad, the internet makes staying in touch much easier with friends only a Skype away...which brings us nicely to our next point.


4) They are a whizz at calculating time differences 

Whether it is to Skype grandparents in your home country or friends from their last school year, your third culture kid can figure out the time there before you have even unlocked your phone.

5) They look confused when someone asks where they are from 

Most third culture kids agree, this is the most challenging one. Many believe they are citizens of the world more than any specific country.



Based on these criteria, my children are probably not third culture kids, since, although they have dual nationality, they were born in Mexico where they have lived all their lives so far. They do have some factors in common, though.  Being bilingual in English and Spanish gives them an insight into two different cultures at least, and a means of communication with both the British and the Mexican sides of their family.

My almost five-year-old has grasped the concept of different time zones and the fact that when we talk to my parents on FaceTime during the day it’s already night time where they live.  Although she hasn’t yet traveled outside Mexico, she shows a great deal of curiosity about other countries and how languages, climate and customs are often different in other parts of the world.  She has already expressed her desire to visit different countries, especially England. And the North Pole!


For expat families who move around a lot or families who are traveling full-time, it may be tough for children to experience so many different changes in their lives; changing home, country, language, school and friends.  However, there are so many benefits that perhaps outweigh the difficulties; kids learn to adapt to new circumstances, become open to different cultures and acquire communication skills that they wouldn’t otherwise have.  Research shows they are better at coping with change as an adult and can often be more attractive prospects for employers.  So although the end of school year goodbye is hard, being a third culture kid may well stand them in good stead in the long run.


No matter how many cultures your children belong to, their health and wellbeing is their greatest asset. Ensure they have the health cover they need while living abroad with International Health Insurance for families .




Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

Musings Of A Tired Mummy

10 Comments

  1. I've never heard that phrase before. I have friends who were in the military and two of their children were born in Germany, so I see what you mean. It's great to have an insurance for families like yours. It must give you wonderful piece of mind. #KCACOLS

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  2. Lovely read, and lucky kids! #KCACOLS xoxo

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  3. Never heard this phrase before but as a military family I know lots who it applies to! #KCACOLS

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  4. haha we def dont have a third culture kid here! we did one trip abroad and not doing it again haha! Thanks so much for linking up at #KCACOLS. Hope you come back again next time!

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    1. Why won't you travel again? It's a great learning experience for the kids and a memorable bonding moment for the family.

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  5. We don't have a third culture kid but they did all fly in a month or 2 of being born (our youngest was 6 days old - back then it was legal). #KCACOLS

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  6. This is really interesting. I'd never thought about this before. But I'm not raising a TCK x #GlobalBlogging

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  7. I would imagine insurance is hugely important when traveling and raising kids in different countries. #GlobalBlogging

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  8. Lovely read! Sounds like your kids are very blessed! <3 I love the one about the look on their face when asked where they are from! #KCACOLS

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  9. Sadly a lot of expat families force the situation on their kids without stopping and asking themselves if it's really a good idea. It all sounds so glamorous and fun but from an adult point of view of course, especially adults who know who they are and what home is forgetting that their children might not have that constant. Ask the child how they feel and they might say something different. Constantly losing friends, going to international schools with cultures that often don't meld, being the only kid in your year from a particular country, slow development of your mother tongue because the kids around you are learning English as a foreign language so little opportunity to communicate fluently and depending on the country kids who have maids and no sense of reality (often really spoilt and entitled). I will say one thing though in its favour if you hit on the right location then it can be a wonderful experience and as a family you can become incredibly close and with the constant loss of friends siblings become incredibly close too and important to each other, that is priceless.

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