The last segment from my beautiful and talented guest, mrs. parker.
An interesting aspect of the trip home is that you typically find yourself back under your parent’s roof, only this time you have kids of your own. This is rather unique to expat families and something that other families do not typically experience…
For a weekend, yes, or even a week, but not for six consecutive weeks. It can be very stressful for both the hosts and the visitors. And now you are not only dealing with your relationship with family members, but also your children’s relationships. Differences in expectations for the children’s behaviour, as well as discipline techniques, are touchy subjects, especially in someone else’s house. Your children may not be on their best behaviour with schedules disrupted, jet-lag, new surroundings, and a parent MIA. Your expectations for your children may be different, and how you respond to them may be different, now that you have an audience most of the time. It may have been a long time since your hosts (often your parents) had children living in their home.
Our solution: Be prepared for some tension (for all parties involved) and plan for how to deal with it. Have an open discussion with your hosts, either before your trip or shortly after your arrival, about what the house rules should be. Let them know how you typically discipline your children to help preserve consistency. Re-visit this discussion throughout the trip, as attitudes and desires may change with time and the experience of living together (particularly after the honeymoon period of a week or two wears off!) Spending a few nights with another relative or friend can also give everyone a break.
With all these challenges to face, is it even worth it to leave the comfort of your home in a foreign land, to travel, kids in tow, to your home and native land? Most definitely! The only thing better than spending time with friends and family, is being able to see your children spend time with them. Friendships are forged, familial bonds strengthened, and memories made. And when the trip is over, and you are looking at your hundreds of photos, it will be with a great big smile on your face.
Big thanks to my wife for writing this article. I’m lucky guy who gets to post it.