Understanding Third Culture Kids/Adults.

Understanding Third Culture Kids/Adults.

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Michele Phoenix

Introducing The Time/Depth Dilemma: whereas MKs and TCKs generally require depth in forming relationships, mono-culturals require time to form meaningful connections. On paper, it looks like this:



Do you see how quickly and fearlessly the MK/TCK dives deep? To the mono-cultural person who craves time to slowly move from depth to depth, the MK appears way too intense. To the TCK who values speedy self-revelation, the mono-cultural’s emphasis on time feels shallow and pointless. As a result, we (stupidly) reach the conclusion that an entire people-group is relationally flimsy and we write them off with an arrogant generalization.



Why do TCKs do things so differently? There are several reasons, really. The greatest of them is the awareness that time is limited. We’ve lived so long in a world saturated with both expected and unexpected goodbyes that we enter each relationship anticipating that it could end at the drop of a hat—when circumstances, mission mandates, finances or the inherent transience of the international community rip us away from those we’ve loved.



We function as if there is no time—because so often, there isn’t! When we meet someone new, it’s as if an invisible timer has started a countdown. Quickly! Figure out who this person really is. Tell her about your greatest joys and sorrows and see if she knows what to do with them. Ask him about his faith and emotions, and see if he’s willing to be vulnerable. Throw every “like? and “dislike? at the person you’ve just met and see where your points of interest intersect. Then decide (just as quickly) whether this person is capable of the depth you crave and worth the inevitable pain that will come when your proximity is suddenly ended.

All I can add to the full article is this:

Some of us finally fit in by becoming therapists, social workers, counselors etc. because that’s the one place in our world where people actually seem to connect, “Normally.” (Read: Immediately.)

The good news is, the art of relationally holding-back and feeling your way into a relationship can be learned…

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