To What Extent Do Third Culture Kids Exist As A Separate Ethnographic Group?
With all of the traveling and quick moving going on in today's world, there are a lot of children that end up living in a different culture than the culture where their parents grew up. Kids who grow up in this kind of a situation are commonly referred to as “Third Culture Kids” or TCKs. When a TCK grows up outside of their parents culture, a new kind of “sub-culture” is created. There are several different reasons as to why this happens, but the main reason is because of the combination of their parents culture and the culture the child grows up in.
Third Culture Kids have an advantage to their parents when it comes to getting used to a new culture and even a new language. A child's mind is like a sponge, sucking up the language and information they get around the culture and in schools. It's easier for them to adapt than it is for the parents, who have to rewire their brains to function in the new culture, so at the house, they will most likely keep things similar to their comfort culture. This provides two different cultures for the child, one at school and one in the home environment, combining them both and creating the sub-culture in them. This separates the child from the parents and from the culture of the area they live in.
For an example, let's say an American couple moves to Mexico with their 4 year old son. When the child goes to play with a friend, he may not like the food at that friends house because he's used to the American food his parents makes. But, when the child goes home, he may want to watch a Mexican TV show instead of an American one because he watched that show with his friend. This is just a small example of how the combinations of cultures can influence a child's decisions and behaviors, completely different from his friend and his parents.
This combination of cultures really sets a part a TCK from the children that live in the culture their own parents grew up in. They will have so many different environmental aspects that play into their own development that it creates a unique ethnographic group. TCKs have their own sub-culture that separate them from the other existing cultures and that should be recognized by their parents and friends. Treating a child raised in a different culture exactly as you were raised in your culture won't get the results you normally would, because the other culture plays a big role in their development as well. It's important to realize this and treat each sub-culture separately as each one creates a different behavior and whole different ethnographic group.