Over the last four years, I’ve started to get a little more brave in how I think about my family life abroad. Between doing a year-long research and reflection process with my husband about where the ideal place to live as a family would be, flying from Hong Kong to Europe for interviews with top international schools that reflected my values and launching the Global Wise Parenting website…there’s been a lot of good living going on in our home.
I’ve had more support and love come my way from family, friends and colleagues than I could have imagined, and it’s clear why.
How I got more out of my parenting abroad
In a nutshell, I started a book club! Gathering with like-minded parents to share dreams and investigate our ways of knowing and being as parents in this dynamic and digital world we live in was a springboard to my own deepening understanding of what it means to be a courageous parent abroad.
My desires showed me my parenting path
It all started with reviewing the mind maps and vision boards that I’d created in years past – a practice I’ve had since I was in my mid-twenties. I looked for patterns and realized that I’d arrived at an ideal turning point for some new and exciting changes.
This year, I decided to apply a new approach in my life. Rather than thinking my way through my usual mind map and vision board process, I felt my way through with Danielle LaPorte’s Desire Map process. Here are the results of my first go at picking words using her methodology:
- Compassionate interdependence
After some time letting these words marinate in my mind and heart, I knew that something wasn’t quite right.
Confidence wasn’t something that I felt that I lacked. It was just that I wanted more of it and to express myself in bold, new ways about my passions. The definition of confidence is “feeling or showing certainty about something” and I knew that I already felt clear about my beliefs about living and loving. I simply wanted to be braver than ever. That was it. I wanted to be courageous.
When I switched the word “confidence” to “courage”, I felt lighter and more honest with myself. The definition of courage is “the ability to do something that frightens one” and “bravery”. Now I had nailed it!
I love the feeling of being my authentic self, frank but respectful, kind, observant and a deep listener to others. I also know that I am in awe when I witness compassionate courage in others. I have always been one to put humanity first. I get inspired to generate more of my own courage when connecting with others on the same path.
I decided to move out of my comfort zone and courageously introduce myself to parents like me – who live across cultures, who live abroad, who live in diversity – and want more compassionate living for their own lives and their children’s lives. Leading a Desire Map book club group this past January and February 2014 for compassionate, internationally-minded parents was a fabulous way to connect to my desire to feel courage.
So if you want to live a more courageous life abroad – and lead your own children down the same path, you have my wholehearted encouragement!
It’s not the only wise move a globally minded parent can take, but it is a fabulous start, especially when connected to compassion. Being mindful about our own courage takes practice and self-awareness. Fear can make us ignore our inner desires.
I have most certainly experienced fear in my parenting abroad, and it took me some time to look at what I was doing, reflect upon my actions and decide to try another approach.
Living abroad is a complex social experiment for your family, and courage is one of the qualities you can develop to help you try out new, fun experiences and identify new goals. Of course, there isn’t a guarantee that these experiences will work out the way you’d hoped or that you’ll quickly achieve all of your dreams. But you’ll have created inner strength and a wealth of experiences to nurture your inner wisdom as you move forward in your life.
So if you want to be more courageous in your parenting abroad, to be one of the expats, immigrants or global nomads who choose a parenting path that intersects worlds…it begins with having the courage to be compassionate with yourself and to authentically connect with like-minded global parents.
connect your core. create community!
I’d love to hear your core desired feelings, and if anything about raising a family abroad resonated with you today, please leave a comment below!