Last week hubby and I represented Australia to our school for UN Day. We taught fun facts about our homeland and introduced traditional Aussie food and slangs. Most of this information was new to our own children themselves, who are all born in Asia, and have never even lived in Australia!
Our kids are a beautiful blend of many cultures, derived from their ethnicity (they are Latino / Eurasians), their cultural upbringing (having parents who are Australian) and their surroundings (growing up in Expat Land). They speak 3.5 languages (!) and have a peculiar American/Asian accent, that definitely does not sound Australian!
I sometimes wonder, is this expat upbringing confusing for my children? Am I doing them more harm than good by not raising them in one consistent home and culture?
I always had in my mind that we would be back home once our children were at primary school age. Well that age has come for my eldest son, and we are still happily living in Jakarta. Most times I am so grateful for having the opportunity to raise them in this vibrant and dynamic setting. Other times, I feel like I’m robbing them of a pure Australian childhood. I fear that by not having them in Australia from a young age, my children will not feel a connection to their home country, and will not feel Australian at all.
When I see my Aussie friend’s children on social media, enjoying the typical upbringing that I experienced as a child, I feel homesickness and guilt. Who is happier? A child that grows up in a suburb in Australia with the same childhood friends since Kindy (what I was blessed with)? Or my children who get to travel the world and experience different cultures? I honestly don’t know. And I guess I will never know.
What keeps me going is the reassurance that children are resilient and have the ability to be internally happy with whatever situation they are given.
I currently can’t provide them with the same stable Aussie childhood I experienced but what I can do is keep them grounded in whatever country we are living in. Although Jakarta isn’t our permanent home, I have never stated this to our children because I don’t want them to feel unsettled. I try to be a good role model by falling in love with the country we are living in and making the most of where we are. Acknowledging that every country has negative aspects, and that’s ok. Let’s focus on the positives.
We create our own family traditions a well as maintaining as much of our own childhood and cultural traditions as well.
Finally, I try to teach my children gratitude. Each night, we say goodnight to the city… “Good night stars, good night moon, good night cars, goodnight city lights, goodnight Jakarta. Thank you for a beautiful day. We love you!”
Fall in love with Jakarta with me by following my Instagram series, #amillionthingstodoinjakarta @the_expat_housewife_of_jakarta