Feature in Beijing Kids magazine

I’ve spent most of the last month on the road, but I’m finally back home for the forseeable future! It’s very nice to be sleeping in my own bed, cooking in my own kitchen, and hanging out on my own couch (with my own husband!)

In the three nights I’ve been home, I’ve slept 8-9 hours a night instead of my usual 6-7 hours. I think my body is telling me something! So I’m taking it a bit easy, despite the pile of work clamouring for my attention. Sometimes self-care is housework, grocery shopping, and cooking meals.

Today’s self care means that instead of devoting time and energy to finish one of the many half-written blog posts waiting in my drafts folder, I’m going to point to something else – the May 2019 edition of the Beijing Kids magazine. I’m featured in it twice! The whole edition is full of great stories and advice for raising TCKs, not just in Beijing.

First up is an interview of me, a two-page spread as a Parenting Feature on pages 45-46. The article was written by the lovely Pamela Djima, and is called “Parenting Third Culture Kids: Who are they, and how can you help yours?”

Pamela and I spoke by phone when she interviewed me. We had a lovely conversation and I was impressed at how she skillfully boiled down the wide range of topics we discussed into an accessible piece of writing that covers a lot of ground.

“I was struck by how many parents feel guilty and are afraid that they are doing the wrong thing to their kids. My advice to parents is: Make the best choices you can with the information you have. If home is a safe space and you love your kids, that in itself will be a tremendous help.”


Second, I am also quoted in a piece called: “Raising Third Culture Kids: Where is home?” (pages 51-53). The author of this piece, Siana Braganza, interviewed me with a special focus on the topic of belonging for TCKs. She starts her piece with my definition of a Third Culture Kid, and thoughts on home and belonging. She then shares the stories of an expat mum raising TCKs, and an adult TCK. The ATCK is actually someone I’ve connected with online – Mia Livingston – so that was a lovely overlap!

“Home is a concept that combines many things: nostalgia, childhood experiences, familiarity, comfort, security, family relationships, and more. I don’t think it’s essential to have a single place to call ome, or a strictly geographical sense of belonging. But, I do think that on an emotional level we all need some sense of home and belonging, even if the pieces aren’t all found in the one place or community.”


You can read the magazine online, or if you’re in Beijing, grab a paper copy! I’ll have to try to find one myself, too…

Talking about TCKs and expat life with Mo Sibyl

As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, I’ve been sick the last 2+ weeks, while also being busier than normal. This means I still haven’t finished the article I’d intended to post today. Thankfully, I providentially have something else to share with you! In a Recommended Reading post back in June I shared a piece by Mo’lanee Sibyl. Following that, Mo and I connected through social media and soon she invited me to appear on her podcast, More Sibyl. The episode we taped just went live, and you can listen to it here!

I really enjoyed our conversation, and reliving it by listening to the finished podcast was lovely. Mo and I found we had a bunch of shared interests, including a love of language and statistics! (At one point she says: “This is now a conversation between two language nerds!”) We kept finding new tangents to chase, and shared experiences and perspectives to exclaim over and laugh about.

What I appreciated most was how she got me talking about my TCK work. She asked different questions from a different angle, and got a different response from me in return. Even if you know me well, have talked to me about what I do, there’s probably something new in this. Here’s a few excerpts:

“A lot of what I do is translating the TCK experience… Articulating things that they aren’t able to… Because of what they’ve been through, this is how they see the world, and here are some ways we can support them and understand them better. . .Over ten years I developed a set of tools that work. So now what I’m doing is sharing with parents and teachers the tools I developed on the ground.”

Click here to listen to the whole conversation.

Citizenship in heaven for TCKs

Misunderstood is over 300 pages long and yet it is still missing a LOT of stories. I did nearly 300 interviews with TCKs as part of the research that went into it, and a few sentences from probably a third of those interviews were included as quotes in the finished book. That’s a lot of untold stories! There are lots of trails I was interested in following but which either didn’t fit the overall flow/narrative of the book, or weren’t well developed enough to include.

Last year I was able to follow one of those trails with new research. The end result was short (10,000 word) thesis titled “A place to call home: citizenship in heaven for Third Culture Kids” – the final project in a Master of Divinity degree I spent three years working on.

Several Christian TCKs I interviewed for Misunderstood mentioned a specific piece of Christian theology as being very helpful to them through transitions and processing their international childhoods: citizenship in heaven. For my thesis I interviewed 9 TCKs from diverse backgrounds but who were all aged 19-26 and all identified as Christians. I also ran a survey of nearly 100 Christian young adult TCKs. Then there was a LOT of reading – looking at theology, exegesis, homiletics, missiology, sociology, and pastoral care. The end result was an examination of what this theology means, what it means to TCKs, and how it can be a comfort and encouragement for Christian TCKs.

This week mission blog A Life Overseas published a two-part series I wrote for them in which I briefly outline the two major findings of my thesis, complete with quotes from my interviews and statistics from my research.

In the first post I talk about the concept of a heavenly kingdom, described in the New Testament as a culturally inclusive community. 80% of TCKs found the idea of citizenship in heaven comforting, and in this post I explain why that is.

“Home is something that can be lost. A community disperses, and so does the sense of home. A family moves on, and suddenly a place that was home is no longer accessible… Citizenship in heaven answers a deep felt need in TCKs for something that does not exist for them on earth: a singular, comprehensive source of home.”

In the second post I talk about TCKs’ concepts of (earthly) citizenship, and how this affects the way they understand what it means to be citizens of heaven. Their perspective has something important to speak to Christians generally, and also makes the theology of citizenship of heaven a powerful tool to help TCKs think through other aspects of Christian theology.

“During interviews every TCK used ideas from their description of earthly citizenship to illustrate what they believed heavenly citizenship was… Citizenship is an image that resonates for immigrants and expatriates and especially TCKs. New Testament writers used this imagery precisely because it connects with so many earthly experiences. We can do the same, and in the process speak both comfort and challenge to TCKs and others who live cross-cultural lives.”

Click on the links below to read the full posts on A Life Overseas:

Citizens of Heaven: Third Culture Kids and the Longing for Home

Citizens of Heaven: Third Culture Kids and Kingdom Living

A revealing review of Misunderstood

misundertood-3d-cover.jpgRecently Expat Bookshop published a lovely review of Misunderstood by Youth Intercultural Transition Specialist Jane Barron of Globally Grounded.

Jane does a great job of explaining what Misunderstood is: who it’s for, what material is covered, and the flow of the content.

What struck me most about her review, however, is how she went to the heart of the intent with which I wrote.

What sets this book apart from others in the global transition genre is the way Tanya brings research, perspective and solutions together. She identifies the challenge, fear or feeling “many TCKs believe others cannot, or will not, understand,” then underpins it with research and wisdom from experts in the field and articulates it using anecdotes from TCKs and Adult Third Culture Kids (ATCKs). For each challenge, Tanya provides solutions and strategies for parents/ caregivers to support their TCK, so those challenges do not become traumatic but instead serve as springboards for growth.

She’s hit the nail on the head here. I wholeheartedly believe in the many advantages and opportunities that go with an international childhood. I am also all too aware of the corresponding challenges. My goal is to equip carers (and TCKs themselves) with tools, and a perspective, that will help them tackle those challenges effectively – so they aren’t left as speed bumps to trip them up, or land mines coming back to create trouble later on.

But the most striking part of Jane’s review was her clear understanding of the book’s title. I had planned to write a blog post of my own talking about this – but maybe I don’t need to anymore!

The title of the book, Misunderstood, may lead readers to assume the contents are negative in nature but in fact it is very balanced. This word, misunderstood, was repeated over and over in interviews and conversations Tanya had with TCKs yet the book provides an insight into the heads, hearts and souls of children growing up overseas to dispel any misunderstanding. It bridges the gap between TCKs feeling misunderstood and adults trying to understand. TCKs reading this book will identify with the words ‘spoken’ by other TCKs and perhaps find a vocabulary to express their emotions and find a sense of belonging. Parents, educators and other caregivers will gain the understanding TCKs desperately need and want in order to encourage, equip and support them to “develop into emotionally mature adults,” either abroad or at home. Misunderstood is a book of hope and one I would highly recommend for all TCKs and those who care for them.

Yes, yes, and YES. I felt strongly that the title “Misunderstood” was the best way to stay true to the stories that were entrusted to me by hundreds of TCKs. But that title is not a curse, and it is not the way things must inevitably be. It is instead a starting point: that of stopping to acknowledge the way so many TCKs (young and old) feel, or have felt, as a result of their international childhood experiences. To understand TCKs, we must first listen to them, to their stories. We must stop to hear their feelings – even if they are uncomfortable. Only then can we begin to move from misunderstanding to understanding. Yes, Misunderstood is intended to be a book of hope – that no TCK need always be misunderstood, and that non-TCKs really can learn to understand how TCKs see the world.

Read Jane’s full review on Expat Bookshop.

TCK Summit: Cultivating the Mind

Recently I recorded a ten minute talk for The Change School‘s TCK Summit. The TCK Summit is a series of short talks hosted on youtube discussing different aspects of cross-cultural life, especially as it affects TCKs.

September’s TCK Summit talks centre on the theme of “Cultivating The Mind”.

One area of focus for The Change School is lifelong learning. Another is “developing a Global Mindset” so part of what I talk about is what this has looked liked for me.

The core of my talk is about connection to multiple cultures, and why this requires cultivation of mind. There is stress attached to navigating differing cultural expectations, which can dim mental clarity. This is something that came out in a number of my interviews for Misunderstood – TCKs faced with the need to make a decision about the future often experienced anxiety they needed tools to work through.

“The influence of multiple cultures can be quite stressful at times. If you are influenced by two cultural systems that means double the information to take in, double the social rules to learn, double the means of communication to master, double the values to internalise… Knowing yourself deeply, consciously processing emotion, acknowledging difficulties, creating mental space – these are all strategies that make it easier for each of us to grow through our engagement with multiple cultures rather than become overwhelmed by all the noise.”

You can watch my talk on youtube now!

When homeschooling feels lonely

Today I have a guest post up on Velvet Ashes, an online community for women serving overseas. In my post I share some of what I learned from homeschooled TCKs while researching for Misunderstood. There are a few stats and quotes from the book, as I discuss how loneliness can negatively affect homeschooled TCKs – and how parents can help.

As I have mentored and interviewed TCKs, I have seen over and over that parents have the power to dramatically impact their child’s experience.

Homeschooling may be academically daunting at times, but a parent’s engaged and supportive presence makes a huge difference.

Homeschooling may be socially isolating at times, but parents can lead the way in providing access to and encouraging engagement with peers.

I’d love to hear your thoughts, so please head over to Velvet Ashes to read the full article and comment there.


Interview on Expat Bookshop

Expat Bookshop recently published an interview with me, talking about Misunderstood, and the writing/publishing process.

Q: What were the highlights of the writing and publishing process from starting to write your book to it being sent to print?

A: The highlights for me were the responses of readers. Throughout the writing process I had test-readers – TCKs who read drafts of short sections and told me what they thought. By the time I finished the first draft, most said they saw their own thoughts and feelings reflected and were amazed to discover that others felt the same way. There were quite a few tears, too! Similarly, receiving reviews from a number of excellent authors was a great highlight. It was very exciting to see my aims for the book reflected in their responses. The point of writing Misunderstood was to help people, so there’s nothing better than knowing people are finding it helpful.

Read the whole interview here.

Interview on DrieCulturen

I did an interview with Janneke at DrieCulturen which is online today. In it I talk about writing Misunderstood, my experience living overseas as a teenanger, and where “home” is:

As you probably know I love books and especially on the topic of growing up abroad. I am pleased to announce that a new book on the topic is about to be released and the author Tanya Crossman has agreed to answer some questions specially for you. Thank you Tanya! By the way if you want to know what children or young people say about growing up abroad then you have to read this book. Now over to Tanya.

1) Please tell us about your book “Misunderstood”. Tell us about how you were inspired to write the book?
I spent a decade mentoring TCKs (third culture kids), listening to them and learning how they felt about life. Parents began to ask my advice, and I saw lightbulb moments as they saw their children’s situation in a new light. When asked for resources I pointed to lots of great books, but couldn’t find anything that did what I did…

Read the full interview on DrieCulturen Misundertood 3D COVER