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Expatriate Parenting: Navigating Parenthood Challenges and Resources While Living Abroad

By using resources like expat parenting groups and international schools, expatriate parents can navigate the unique challenges of raising children abroad. Some of these unique challenges can include helping your children balance their multicultural identities and navigating new school systems. 

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Are you an expat parent currently living abroad with your children or an expat looking to begin your family abroad? You will likely have plenty of questions regarding the options and resources available to you while you navigate parenting overseas. 

In this article, we will describe the unique challenges expatriate parents face and share information on the available resources to help you navigate them. By understanding the resources available to them, expat parents can be prepared to raise their families abroad.  

Common Challenges for Expatriate Parents Abroad

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Some of the most common challenges expat parents face are helping their children adjust to new cultures, finding quality education, and caring for their children’s social and developmental growth while abroad. Each of these issues brings with it its own unique set of roadblocks. 

While these challenges are not specific only to expat families, these issues are usually amplified while living abroad. For example, children may feel the stress of stunted social growth more in a place with significant language barriers. 

We will discuss these challenges in greater detail below. 

Adjusting to New Cultures and Identity Development

Developing their identity while abroad among different cultures can be overwhelming for children. They may feel confused about how to integrate with the new culture and may struggle with having a multicultural identity. This overwhelm can quickly lead to homesickness. 

This is especially true during adolescence, which is a key time for identity development in children. They may have trouble relating to peers that seem so different from them. 

Another side of this issue is the differences in parenting styles that you may come across while living abroad. As a parent, you may be used to using discipline or rules in your family in a way that may seem odd to those in your new host country. 

Finding Quality Education Abroad

It can be challenging to find accessible and quality education for your children in foreign countries, especially if there is a language barrier. Depending on where you live, you may not feel like the local education is not up to the quality you had back home. 

Some poorer countries may have fewer accommodations for international students, with fewer multilingual teachers. Navigating these diverse educational systems can be difficult for expat parents living abroad. 

Social and Emotional Well-being Abroad

Children living abroad may struggle with their social and emotional well-being, especially if they are feeling lonely and isolated from their new community. Language barriers and other issues can lead to this, leaving your child feeling unsupported and alone. 

It can be hard to be the new kid at school, but it will be much harder if your child doesn’t understand the language or culture. They may feel like they are too different from everyone else, and their self-esteem can take a big hit. 

Support networks between communities have always been a key part of children’s social and emotional well-being. If that isn’t replicated in your new country, there may be significant problems. 

Benefits of Raising Children Abroad

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While it can be easy to focus on the negative aspects of taking your children overseas, the truth is that there are plenty of benefits to it as well, such as teaching your children new languages and helping them expand their view of the world. 

We will share some benefits of raising your children abroad below: 

  • They Learn New Cultures: Children who live abroad are exposed to more cultures than if they had stayed in their home country, which broadens their horizons and helps them understand more of the world. It can also help their sense of wonder and awe of the world. 
  • They Can Learn New Languages: By immersing in new cultures and taking the time to learn and practice the language, children living abroad can learn new languages much more quickly than if they had simply tried to learn them on their own back home. 
  • They Can Learn to Be More Adaptable: Growing up overseas means learning that change is good and learning how to adapt to new situations, foods, people, and cultures. Adaptability is a great characteristic to instill in young people and will serve them their entire lives. 
  • Your Family Can Grow Closer: Relocating and starting over in a new area can be scary, making you rely more on your family and deepening familial bonds. Expat families have the opportunity to grow closer as they adjust to their new host countries. 

Resources for Expatriate Parents Living Abroad

Resources available for expatriate parents include international schools, expat parenting communities, and counseling and mental health services. These resources can help you parent your children in a way that benefits you and your entire family. 

International Schools

Private international school is an excellent option for children living abroad as it can offer teachers who speak the same language as them and other foreign children. They can offer more support, resources, and accessibility for expat children compared to local schools. 

International schools usually offer different curricula, with the most popular being the British, American, and International Baccalaureate (IB). When making your choice of international schools, make sure you choose one that follows your preferred curriculum. 

Are you ready to start looking at international schools across the world now? Check out world-schools.com to find a comprehensive list of international schools anywhere across the globe. 

Expatriate Parenting Communities 

Expat parents should seek out support from other expat parents in similar life situations through local or online parenting communities. This can be an essential resource during this time in your life, allowing you to gather advice and support from those who understand what you’re going through. 

Local expat parents can help you find the best schools for your kids, the best doctors and healthcare clinics, and so much more. You can connect with other expats through online forums like Facebook groups, by joining local organizations, or attending local community events. 

To begin searching out local expat groups, check out internations.org, an online platform that allows expats from across the world to network, socialize, and support each other. 

Counseling and Mental Health Services 

If your children are having a rough time with the transition of living overseas, it can be wise to take them to a mental health professional. These professionals are trained to help kids navigate their emotions around big life changes and can help them move forward in a healthy manner. 

Counseling can also be an essential resource for expat parents as well. If you feel like you are struggling as well with your new life, a therapist can be there as a listening ear. They can also offer you emotional tools and strategies to help you cope with your new life. 

It’s important to note that in some countries, mental health services may be harder to access or stigmatized. If you have international health insurance, you can reach out to your insurance provider to see if they can find you a mental health counselor in your network. 

Other Tips for Moving Abroad With Children

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Some other tips for expatriate parents moving abroad with children include staying close with family and friends back home, encouraging your children to do the same, and including your children in exploring your new home. 

  • Staying Close with Home: make sure to keep your ties strong with those back home not to make your child feel as if they are being cut off from their friends and family. Call them regularly, and encourage your child to do the same. 
  • Include Your Children in Exploring: Take your children sightseeing around their new home and help them become better accustomed to their new surroundings. You can take them to local museums, markets, and restaurants to help them immerse themselves in the culture. 

Frequently Asked Questions: 

How does moving abroad affect children? 

Moving abroad can overwhelm children and make them feel emotionally drained if the proper resources and approaches are not taken. Parents can help their children adjust by taking care to offer them opportunities to feel safe and heard and help find them other expat children to socialize with. 

How can I support my children’s social growth in a new country? 

Expatriate parents can help their children grow socially by introducing them to other expat children in their communities, letting them attend an international school, and allowing them an appropriate degree of independence. 

What are the options for schooling as an expat family living overseas?

Expat parents can choose to enroll their children in international schools, local public or private schools, online education programs, or they may homeschool them. You can ask other expat families for their recommendations on which schooling option is the best and why. 

How can I make sure my children have access to quality healthcare while living abroad? 

You can ensure access to quality healthcare by taking the time to research healthcare options in your new country of residence and taking out an international health insurance policy. International health insurance can grant you access to the best quality private clinics across the globe. 

Conclusion

It’s important that expatriate parents seek support as they raise their children abroad. By utilizing the available resources, expat families can grow and thrive while making a lifetime of memories while living overseas. 

If you’re planning on beginning or expanding your family abroad, maternity insurance can make all the difference. Maternity insurance provides financial support during pregnancy, childbirth, and even during the postnatal period. Without it, you could be left to pay high out-of-pocket costs. 

Ready to begin finding the right maternity insurance coverage for you? Contact the insurance experts at Pacific Prime! With over 20 years of experience in providing insurance solutions to expats across the world, we have the answers to all your questions. 

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Enjoyed this article? Check out our other articles on topics like Travel Insurance for Pregnancy and International Adoption!

Senior Content Creator at Pacific Prime
Serena Fung is a Senior Content Creator at Pacific Prime, a global insurance brokerage and employee specialist serving over 1.5 million clients in 15 offices across the world. With 2+ years of experience writing about the subject, she aims to demystify the world of insurance for readers with the latest updates, guides and articles on the blog.

Serena earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from the University of British Columbia, Canada. As such, she is an avid advocate of mental health and is fascinated by all things psychology (especially if it’s cognitive psychology!).

Her previous work experience includes teaching toddlers to read, writing for a travel/wellness online magazine, and then a business news blog. These combined experiences give her the skills and insights she needs to explain complex ideas in a succinct way. Being the daughter of an immigrant and a traveler herself, she is passionate about educating expats and digital nomads on travel and international health insurance.
Serena Fung