This month, we focus on Third Culture Kids (TCKs): persons who have “spent a significant part of their developmental years outside the parents’ culture.” Many of FIGT’s members are TCKs or adult TCKs, are parents to TCKs, or work with and support TCKs as educators, counselors, and other professionals.
Where would FIGT be if not for Third Culture Kids (TCKs)? Many of our members are TCKs or adult TCK (ATCKs), are parents to TCKs, or work with and support TCKs as educators, counselors, and other professionals.
And of course, FIGT Founder Ruth Van Reken is co-author, with David C. Pollock, of the “TCK Bible”, Third Culture Kids: Growing Up Among Worlds, which is now in its third edition.
The term “TCK” was originally coined by researchers John and Ruth Useem in the 1950s, and is now typically used to define:
[A] person who has spent a significant part of his or her developmental years outside the parents' culture. The TCK builds relationships to all of the cultures, while not having full ownership in any. (Third Culture Kids: Growing Up Among Worlds. David C. Pollock and Ruth E. Van Reken. 1999, 2001, 2009, 2017.)
TCKs often share such characteristics as an expanded worldview, adaptability, language and cross-cultural skills, as well as the not-so-positive restlessness and rootlessness, confused loyalties, and a lack of a true cultural balance.
(FIGT members: log in and get a refresher on TCKs with this FIGT2007 presentation by Ruth Van Reken and Libby Stephens: “Third Culture Kids: The Experience Of Growing Up Among Worlds” or watch “Third Culture Kids 101” with Tanya Crossman.)
Over the next few weeks, we will be exploring some of the issues facing today’s Third Culture Kids (TCKs). This is a vast topic and an area that is the focus of a great deal of exciting and interesting research.
While we cannot promise to touch on every aspect of TCK life, we hope to touch on topics and themes that will promote further discussion.
To access the content: Please join us on Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter. Video content will be available for the month and then archived to the members’ only section of this website.
If you would like to add your voice to this conversation, please contact Sarah at email@example.com.
There are a vast number of presentations and resources on TCKs on this site and we introduce a few here. You're invited to also explore our Free Articles and Information and TCK/CCK Resources.
(Items with * require FIGT member log-in.)
From this month's blog
From the FIGT archives
From FIGT conferences
“Do TCKs Have Unique Skills? The Childhood Experience of Being Different and Its Impact on Expatriate Living,”* Dr. Anne P. Copeland (Keynote Presentation, FIGT2017)
“Globally Mobile Children: One Tribe or Many,”* Dr. Ann Baker Cottrell (FIGT2017). A fascinating look into the evolution of many “types” of globally mobile children, including TCKs, CCKs, and others.
“What Do TCKs REALLY Think about Growing Up Global?”* Nancy Henderson-James (FIGT2010). An analysis of essays by 90 TCKs who grew up in Angola and Congo from the 1930s to the 1980s and parental responses.
“Exploring Multiculturalism and Identity in Children's Literature,”* Laura Sicola (FIGT2010). A list of books for children, adolescents, and adults that address multiculturalism and identity.
“Transition Training: Toddlers to Teens,”* Barbara Berthiaume & Jill Kristal (FIGT2005). Research on the skills and strategies to parent TCKs through different stages of development.
> TCKs and school
> Different groups of TCKs
From the FIGT Bookstore
The FIGT Bookstore features publications written or recommended by FIGT members. Purchasing through the affiliate links below supports the David C. Pollock Scholarship at no extra cost to you. (Descriptions are from Amazon.)
Third Culture Kids: Growing up among Worlds (3rd edition), by David C. Pollock, Ruth E. Van Reken, and Michael V. Pollock. “Widely recognized as The TCK Bible[,] it...address[es] the impact of technology, cultural complexity, diversity & inclusion and transitions” on TCKs and gives “advice for parents and others for how to support TCKs as they navigate work, relationships, social settings and their own personal development.”
The Worlds Within, an anthology of TCK art and writing: young, global and between cultures, edited by Eva László-Herbert and Jo Parfitt. “[T]he cultural chameleons, the young global nomads, the TCKs — Third Culture Kids — from around the world, telling you their story. They gave us their words and art, so that finally there is a book BY them and not ABOUT them.”
Expat Teens Talk, Peers, Parents and Professionals offer support, advice and solutions in response to Expat Life challenges as shared by Expat Teens, by Lisa Pittman and Diana Smit. “Expat Teens, worldwide, shared with us their stories, questions, challenges, fears, and experiences…[and] we provided...support, advice, and solutions” from other expat teens, parents, and professionals.
Misunderstood: The impact of growing up overseas in the 21st century, by Tanya Crossman. Introduces “the Third Culture”, a “safe space of comfort and understanding...through the personal stories of hundreds of individuals.” Get “insights into the international experience, along with practical suggestions for how to offer meaningful care and support.”
Belonging Everywhere and Nowhere: Insights into Counseling the Globally Mobile, by Lois J. Bushong. “Bushong, a licensed marriage and family therapist, delves into this previously, unexplored world of how to effectively counsel clients raised outside of their parents' home culture.”
Arrivals, Departures and the Adventures In-Between, by Christopher O'Shaughnessy. “Once, down a dark alleyway, a struggling TCK bumped into a mysterious Zen master, a grinning comedian, and an author of thrillers. That alleyway and those personas reside at O'Shaughnessy's center. Get ready to grab your seat to steady your heart and to avoid falling over with laughter.” — review by Douglas W. Ota, Author
There are many more titles in the FIGT Bookstore — so please do explore!