Blog: What is a Third Culture Kid?

In my bio statement I proudly mention that I am a Third Culture Kid (TCK)… You’re probably reading this wondering ” What is a Third Culture Kid?!” ” Could I be a Third Culture Kid?”Let me explain the definition of ” Third Culture Kid ” and the impact on life and therapy.

Definition of Third Culture Kids:

A TCK is a person who has spent a significant part of their developmental years outside of their parents culture

What are the three cultures?

1) Birth Culture

2) New Culture

3) Process of creating a new culture

Typical TCKs:

  • Military/ Army “Brats”
  • Non-Military Government
  • Religious/ Missionary Kids
  • Business Kids
  • Other

Lifestyles, Customs, Rituals & Traditions:

  • Suggested benefits:
  • Linguistic ability
  • Cross-cultural skills
  • Expanded worldview
  • Expanded spiritual view

Famous TCKs:

  • Priscilla Presley
  • Bruce Willis
  • Barack Obama
  • Sean Lennon

How does being a TCK affect Partnering, Coupling, Marriage & Family?:

  • Typically TCKs marry older (25+)
  • Military TCKs marry earlier
  • Lower divorce rates

TCK’s and Education Impact: 

  • Missionary Kids (MK): At one point the majority of their education was from boarding schools, this is beginning to change.
  • 4 x more likely to earn a Bachelor’s Degree than Non-TCK
  • 40% earn an advanced degree
  • 45% attended 3 universities before completing their undergrad degree
  • 44% earned an undergrad degree after the age of 22
  • Educators, medicine, professional positions , and self employment are the most popular professions

Themes TCKs Experience Regarding: Oppression, Discrimination, Prejudice, and Marginalization:

  • Life Transitions
  • Involvement
  • Leaving
  • Transition
  • Entering
  • Re-involvement

Themes in Therapy:

  • Identity
  • Values
  • Beliefs
  • Behaviors
  • influences
  • Grief & loss
  • Depression, anxiety & stress
  • Separation
  • Transition
  • Feeling different
  • Feeling like they have no control

 

Sources:

  • 16 Celebrities Who Came from Military Families: Veteran’s Day. (n.d.). Retrieved November 10, 2014, from http://www.babble.com/celebrity/veterans-day-16-stars-who-were-military-brats/
  • Davis, P., Suarez, E., Crawford, N., & Rehfuss, M. (2013). Reentry program impact on missionary kid depression, anxiety, and stress: A three-year study. Journal of Psychology and Theology, 41(2), 128-140.
  • Fletcher, A. (2001, March 5). The Homeless VIPs. Christianity Today, 80-82.
  • Gould, J. (2001). Always Saying Goodbye. Journal of Loss & Trauma, 6, 75-81.
  • Third culture kid. (2014, October 31). Retrieved November 10, 2014, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Third_culture_kid
  • TCKID: What is a Third Culture Kid? (TCKs). (2008, January 1). Retrieved November 10, 2014, from http://tckid.com/what-is-a-tck.html
  • Walters, K., & Auton-Cuff, F. (2009). A Story To Tell: The Identity Development Of Women Growing Up As Third Culture Kids. Mental Health, Religion & Culture, 12(7), 755-772.