wisdom is not measured in age but in maturity

Wisdom teeth usually come up during late teens and are the last teeth to appear. Ryan’s were problematic, needing an operation and a three-day stay in the local hospital. He had to deal with all this in Hungarian including having to translate for us! When we didn’t understand or had a question we couldn’t ask in the language, he stepped in to help.

Conflicting Emotions

To be honest, we went through conflicting emotions as a result. We felt incredibly proud of Ryan’s language skills and his ability to serve as our interpreter. At the same time, we felt that the situation was simply wrong. It should be us helping him, not the other way round!

Ryan who is our eldest was only seventeen at the time. We had seen change over the years, not only had he grown to be 6ft 3in, but we saw him grow as a person too. We truly believe that he has gained wisdom not only because he is older but also because of his experiences living abroad.

As we remember back, to the early years of our expat journey, it certainly wasn’t easy to walk through them with a miserable fourteen-year-old. Ryan would express his opinions strongly to all who would listen. To compound the problem we didn’t have the luxury of sending our children to an international school. They were thrown in at the deep-end because they had to attend a Hungarian school. Ryan went from finding school incredibly easy and doing well in most subjects to finding school tough. Imagine learning German but hearing all the explanations in Hungarian!

A Wealth of Experience

Expat kids pay a high price and often we don’t fully appreciate the adjustments they have to make to cope with life in another country. Our children have lived in four countries so have gained quite a lot of experience along the way. They are true TCKs (Third Culture Kids). Helping the kids navigate through their negative experiences is not always easy but as a result, we have found them to have grown into wisdom not measured by birthdays or teeth.

TCK's grow in wisdom not defined by age or how many teeth they cut Click To Tweet

A man begins cutting his wisdom teeth the first time he bites off more than he can chew.
Herb Caen

If you are struggling with an unhappy third culture kid, then give it time.  All children need love and support, and the TCK is no different – in fact, if anything they need even more. There may be many times you wonder if you have made a terrible mistake. There have probably been times when your kids have told you that ‘the sky is falling’. Invalidating their feelings won’t help but helping them process their feelings will help them grow into emotionally happy adults.

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