If you read my last post, I highlighted some of the benefits of raising African-American children overseas. In hindsight, I’ve also experienced situations that weren’t so pleasant. They were more like stark splashes of reality that kept my third eye open and aware.
This post is about some of the disadvantages to raising African-American children overseas. Please keep in mind that these are solely my opinions regarding my personal experiences, pitfalls and nuances.
#1 Missing Family
This is probably one of the hardest things for me to deal with so I knew it had to be difficult for my son. Missing holidays, birthdays, family gatherings, etc is difficult. My son, on the other hand, grew up around those traditions so being away during those celebrated times of the year, caused inevitable concerns. As a child, I remember looking forward to Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter dinners with the family. I remember the birthday parties and other occasions that would allow me to connect with family. My son is a lot like me in a sense that he LOVES family. Now, missing his dad was a totally different scenario. I realized that the distance was painful for him. On a more positive note, family can always visit and there are plenty of options to come home for the holidays (Christmas, summer vacation, etc).
How much is too much? Let me be specific: How much is too much when it comes to moving a child from country to city, etc? Better yet, when is it time to settle? That’s a great question, especially for those of us who love to move, travel and relocate to various places. During my reflections, I assumed that moving would create problems with building relationships with peers and feeling a sense of belonging for my son. I questioned myself: Will this cause anxiety, insecurity, etc for him? Me?
Getting settled in one place to then having to face the reality of moving to another place is hard, especially when making the decision to sign those infamous contracts. So many decisions are intermingled in our life that can effect on our children’s livelihood, experiences and way of life. On the flip side of things, I pondered on a few revelations in wonderment: Is there a such thing as stability in our globalized society? How many years should a child stay in one place? Is moving helping or hurting them in the long run? At the end of the day, it’s what’s best for the child.
Please, if you have any feedback, let this be an interactive post. Go!
#3 The expense
Living abroad definitely has its financial perks. Get this-most overseas contracts have tax-free salaries with most living expenses covered. However, it can be very expensive when relocating.
What do I mean? Well, think about the costs of tuition, food, traveling to various countries, visas, vaccinations-you name it. Having your child on board is costly, no matter how you look at it. Be wise when making your decision. Make sure you sign contracts that are financially conducive for your situation as a single parent. If you can find a teaching contract that not only supplies housing but also your child’s tuition, you are in a good place. It’s even better when you can score a contract which pays for tuition, medical insurance, travel and room and board. My first contract in the UAE did not cover tuition. This became extremely costly as I had to really budget to make sure that funds were available for travel, living expenses and social activities. Be wise in your spending and choose a situation that best suits your needs. Are you ready for the financial challenge of raising a child overseas?
#4 family support
This is huge, especially if you are a single mom or dad. Let me tell you, we don’t realize what we have until it’s gone. Now, being away from family forces you to re-evaluate your circle and priorities. Gone are the times that I can leave my son with mom, grandma or auntie. No. I had to either sacrifice those social outings or find an alternative sitter, which wasn’t always a suitable scenario. Eventually, I created a supportive family away from home, however, this took some reasoning on my part and eventually some breaking out of my shell in order to trust people with my son.
Eventually, single moms, you realize that you have a life to live which is separate from your children. Pray about it and then place your child and situation into God’s unchanging hands. He will guide you to the right people and the ideal situation. Just wait and see…
Thankfully, my son was of a good age when we moved so trying to figure out a suitable sitter for a toddler for example, wasn’t an issue. I know that depending on age, especially for the younger children, it can be a very difficult decision. This is how it is when figuring out a day care provider, by the way.
Mostly, I was able to coordinate with other moms who had children the same age as my son. In actuality, it turned more into a play date rather than a babysitting assignment. Of course, I returned the favor which was not only to give that mom a break but me as well. Heck, sometimes I needed time to myself while my son entertained his company. I think that regardless of the place, we all need a highly regarded support system away from home.
#5 School Matters
Now, as a mini disclaimer, my situation regarding #5 is my personal experience. I am by no means saying that this situation happens at all schools. There was a situation at my son’s school where a teacher hit him. Yup. I said it. You want the rest of the story?
Watch the video.
Anyway, one of the disadvantages to moving overseas is finding a school that not only meets your educational requirements but your moral values, especially when it comes to discipline, behavior issues and social awareness. I had issues in all three of these areas and found myself fighting (verbally) with the passive administration because they didn’t find fault in any of the pre-existing school policies. Basically, they preferred supporting the teachers opinions!
This is the worst- not having any support when the administration wants to act obnoxious. You know…when they want to act like it’s your fault that your child was hit by a teacher and that you are a crazy fool for thinking otherwise. I will say this: choose schools wisely. Make sure they fit within your standards and values. Trust your motherly instinct and use discernment wisely. Amen.
If you have school-aged children and you are considering a move abroad, make sure you do your research and find the best situation for you and your child(ren). Again, these are merely my experiences and insights regarding some of the disadvantages to raising black children abroad.
Until next time, be blessed!