I’ve been asked why I created the Global Wise Parenting website and in particular, why parenting abroad is important to me. Well, it certainly takes one to know one when it comes to raising a child outside of your home country. And I’ve been on both sides of this global experience.
I’ve been the child being raised outside of my parents’ home countries and I’ve also been the parent leading a family life overseas.
Truth be told, my reason for starting Global Wise Parenting was because of a road trip to my city of dreams…
Love letter to a city
My defining moment, when I knew that what I’m doing today is what I needed to be doing all along in my life is this: arriving in Vancouver.
Seriously? Yes. Although Vancouver is not my birth city in Canada, it sure does feel like one of my many “homes”. It’s where my curiosity exploded and my mindset transformed. It was the first place I’d experienced nonstop cultural creativity and I was hooked.
It all started with a road trip. Across Canada…
My parents were in the midst of a major life transition and decided to drive us kids across a large portion of the second largest country in the world. They did it 70’s style with a Toyota hatchback hitched to a Caprice Classic. It was the trip of my short lifetime at that point – to a place I’d never been to, nor could imagine, at the tender age of seven.
As we left the flat lands of the prairie provinces and approached the Canadian Rocky mountains, I screamed at my dad, “Look! Look! Look at the mountains, Daddy!” When we finally arrived at Vancouver’s English Bay my senses were overloaded in the best possible way. Absolutely awed by the sea, sand and mountains around me, I instantly connected to Vancouver. Kids love nature. It’s gorgeous. It’s healthy. Vancouver’s organic beauty nourished my “child self” effortlessly.
Vancouver was teeming with geo-mobile families at the time that I was living there. I met people from Iran, Hungary, Wales, the US, Hong Kong, India, Finland, Lebanon, France, Ghana and countless other countries in Vancouver community life. I experienced how public local schools included and encouraged my peers and I to continually move towards our potential in whatever we sought to do.
My passions and strengths slowly pointed me towards education, families and children. There was nothing I wanted to do more in this world than to positively engage, encourage and inspire the academic, social and emotional learning of children from all over the world – no matter where they came from or how they got to my classroom. I wanted to be a part of it all and joined the ranks of Vancouver teachers for several years before expanding on the culturally creative lessons I learned in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
I credit that week-long road trip to Vancouver with my parents and sister as the origin of my desire to live a global lifestyle. Since then, I’ve visited (and even lived) in other dynamic port cities – such as Hong Kong, China and Fukuoka, Japan. My need for a mountainous, natural landscape along with cultural diversity is currently being satisfied in Switzerland.
Teaching in international schools and local schools on three different continents has deeply informed me about the unique experiences of children with globally-mobile lifestyles. International parenting and teaching is a big part of my day-to-day life. Helping parents get the most out of a global parenting experience for themselves and for their children is what I was born to do. This is the journey that has led me here to connect with you at Global Wise Parenting.
Interview: Alice speaks to Taylor White about Global Wise Parenting
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Over the years, I’ve boldly asked the parents of happy, confident and successful children that I’ve taught, “What’s your secret?”. Before I started my own family, I wanted to know how parents living in transition, across cultures, away from extended family and their home country managed to raise such amazing children. Certainly it couldn’t be by accident!
I’ve gleaned much from my observations and inquiries into the kind of parenting practices that support healthy child development when living abroad.
I’ve taken some of the best of what I’ve learned from my experiences, both personal and professional, to guide my own global parenting intentions. I offer my list to you to so you may take the nuggets of value that work for you on your own journey as a parent abroad.
My Declaration on Global Parenting
- Maintain an inner compass with a global focus in all that you do.
- A family life overseas is a social experiment that can ultimately lead to massive personal growth.
- Being “foreign” doesn’t make you inadequate.
- Internationalization and globalization have a big impact on family identities – go in with your eyes wide open with each family move.
- Connection matters.
- Encourage your children’s right to access as much as they can by ensuring that they learn the local language.
- Don’t fear change.
- Free yourself from cultural limitations that don’t work for you.
- Citizenship is a privilege.
- Media abroad and norms for screen use vary around the world. Inform yourself and create family plan to develop a healthy self-concept as well as foster optimal brain development within your children.
- Practice mindfulness in your new world each and every day.
- You are as important and valuable to any community as the “locals” and “nationals” are.
- Diplomacy goes a long way.
- Feeling homesick can happen in your home country.
- Be open to the one-of-a-kind parenting experience a life abroad brings. A global perspective is worth exploring.
- Engagement and participation transforms.
- Respect and compassion benefit you, your children and your community beyond measure.
- Your first language is one of the best gifts that you can give to your child with heart and soul. Don’t lose out on the opportunity to pass it on.
- Raising kids well abroad doesn’t happen by accident.
- Maintain your childhood curiosity like your life depends on it.
- Always remember that the most important “home” you could ever have is within you.