I am an avid fan of Dr. Robin Smith, a licensed psychologist and guest expert on Oprah and Friends™ Radio. I especially love it when Dr. Robin opens her show with a gem that she weaves from her own life that you just know is chocked full of empowering metaphors designed to inspire her listeners in meeting the challenges of their own daily living.
During one of Dr. Robins’ recent call-in shows, a guest phoned in to ask questions about her difficulties with choosing and settling on one career that she would love and be able to stick with. Dr Robin immediately goes into action asking skillfully worded questions designed to elicit information from her caller regarding her dreams and desires for a career and to pin-point the caller’s issues surrounding her career dilemma.
The caller struggled.
As the call progressed and the questions became more artful, the more the caller seemed to struggle with finding the answers.
There I was in the car listening to the show and thinking, “Is this young woman possibly a TCK?” At one point I found myself talking to the radio and animatedly saying, “Ask her questions about what her parents did for a living?”
I wanted to know! Was her Mother in the military? Was her father a missionary? Did she spend part of her developmental years living overseas? And then this magical moment happened… this 30-something caller shared that she typically goes through a 2-3 year cycle of changing jobs, primarily due to her no longer enjoying the job and no longer understanding, or even liking, the people that she works with!
Ahhh – there it is… Could it be possible? Is she a TCK? I lean forward in anxious anticipation….
To my utter disappointment, the call heads into a different direction and closes. This call ended with no real resolution for the caller with respect to her developing more insight and understanding about what might be happening for her… no questions that might have elicited a background that could account for her workforce wanderlust. I also noted that this was not a typical ending when listeners call into the show looking for answers to their concerns. Usually the conversation ends with the caller expressing some type of “aha” moment or at least the recognition that they have a better understanding og the situation that led them to call into the show. My felt sense was that, in this case, the caller had not found the resolution that she was hoping to find
Is it possible that the reason that Dr Robin Smith did not have her usual bull-eye hit when responding to the questions and concerns of her callers was because her caller was a TCK?
While this situation may certainly not have been the story of a TCK in crises, it did lead to my musing about how often helping professionals miss the opportunity to help TCKs who may be struggling with issues of unresolved grief, wanderlust and rootlessness, cultural identity, feelings of alienation, etc., because they do not even know to ask the right questions.
How often do teachers and school counselors miss the opportunity to learn that an underlying part of why a child may be isolating or appear aloof in the classroom is intricately connected to their lived experiences that stem from having spent several years outside of their home culture?
As I mentioned in a previous posting, Vicki Lambiri suggests 10 areas of research that she believes demands our attention and requires further study by and for the benefit of the intercultural community of academics, practitioners and consultants, as they serve the expatriate community. I would like to suggest one more area of research that I believe requires more attention.
As a licensed marriage and family therapist, I would like to propose that more research and increased awareness is needed within the counseling field for understanding the experiences of multi-mover families and impacts of growing up in cultures outside of their passport culture.
What would it mean if psychologists and counselors were to include questions that are designed to elicit this type of information designed, as part of their routine intake, when meeting new clients?
Given our increasing globalization, it might be prudent for the helping profession to consider that the possibility that their new client might be a TCK or ATCK.
How have you been affected by having spent part of your childhood or adolescent years abroad?