Question in International Career

Question : How can I prepare my family for repatriation?

Answer from Helen Watts, expert in Re-entry

One of the most important things you can do to prepare your family for repatriation is to leave well. You could call it building a RAFT (see Ruth Van Reken & David Pollock’s Third Culture Kids – Growing up among worlds).

Reconciliation – this is about making peace with anyone with whom there has been a conflict so that you can leave without emotional baggage. Bring closure to those things that haven’t been great. Forgive yourself too for the cultural gaffes you’ve made.

Affirmation – you can help your children with this one – this is more than just thinking about the good things / people / co-workers from your placement – telling them how much you appreciate them is also important in bring things to an end – if you don’t say things now, when are you going to say them?
Farewells – again, you will need to arrange these for your children – what special places do they need to go to one last time to say goodbye? Which people do they definitely need to see before they leave, what rites of passage can you think of to help them say goodbye to a place that may well have become more home than their passport country ever will be? And possessions – what do they need to let go of and leave behind, which is not insignificant – you can’t take everything with you, but you can decide the nature of how you leave it behind, who you give it to, etc.

Think destination – start to think together about the place you are moving to (or back to). Try and help your children form realistic expectations of what they will encounter; find someone who is aware of culture/fashions for each of your children’s ages and get them to be a guide for them so that the children don’t feel completely oblivious to the current thinking.

All these aspects of building a RAFT are important for children, helping them as much as possible with the transition and helping them to think through their time away and what comes next. Make a memory book with your children (one each) of photos, special people, and special places.

Helen Watts - Expert in Re-entry

Phone number : 0044 7510 923972

Website : Go to Helen Watts's website

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