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Thread: Knowing your roots

  1. #1
    Mountebank MarkO's Avatar
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    Knowing your roots

    MrsO and I have a question about how our children develop a sense of home and nationality.
    ( I am not restarting the patriotism debate )
    We are both British and you could even say both English. We moved to this small country 10 years ago. We now have 4 children who have never lived anywhere else. Two born in the UK and two born in the USA.
    Here there is no route for any of us to be citizens here, we can't vote. I may be able to get what is called permanent residency but that just means I don't need a work permit.
    So where are my children going to feel their roots are?
    We are considering UK boarding school for our eldest in a couple of years.
    I don't really want them to think that their roots are here as to be second generation expats here is not what we want for them. We see a few of those and they come from a time when you could become a citizen so have some rights but you wouldn't describe them as high achievers.
    So if you are an expat and have children or grew up away from your home country how do you deal with the questions of nationality, identity and roots ?
    MB2, SOH, Aquascope, Tangente, MM300, Blackbay, North Flag, Officer, Visitor.

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  3. #2
    MWC is that my watch's Avatar
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    good question but I will leave it to some one with more knowledge on the subject lol but certain way of doing things in your now country you live in now may have worked wonder's in my country if we had done them 50 years back.. but now it seem it to late to do that

    but it's a question of roots or feeling of the parent who then impart them to there children then it is where you feel most at home with maybe ?
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    Member CamB's Avatar
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    Im not in your position Mark but I do understand where you are coming from. I imagine that the children would develop a dual sense of nationality. I know a lot of Brits who settle here in Australia who are still very attached to the UK. Despite being unable to vote or become citizens where you are, I'm sure the kids know the Islands as home and probably always will. I guess one drawback of living in the paradise where you are is that there is a certain inevitability that the kids will need to leave to study and pursue their careers. Lets face it, these days all our children can spread across the globe in pursuit of their career goals.
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    The counter has stopped MHe225's Avatar
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    Great question, Mark, one I too struggle with, be it in a different way (a little more about that later, because this thread is not about us).
    I'm thinking along similar lines as CamB and don't think that sending your kids off to boarding school is the answer. That will only provide artificial roots and may confuse your kids more rather than provide them a sense of belonging and heritage. I have seen -and talked to- many young (and not so) adults who grew up away from their parents and most comment on how they missed their parents and most of them did not develop strong family ties. I can't imagine that is what you want for your kids. And strangely enough, most did also no bond with or develop (extra) strong ties with the country they were sent to. Proximity may help but is not required and one can grow strong roots even away from (what is considered) home.

    Does it make sense or am I too vague and wooly? This is hard to discuss in monologues .....

    Got uprooted twice myself - my dad lost his job and moved our family across the country (Netherlands) shortly before I turned 11. Distance wise not a big move, but it was. Especially at the time. It took us quite a while to get rooted again and to this day we're still considered "those Southerners" in what we consider our hometown.

    Then 15 years ago, both my wife and I lost our jobs so accepting an offer in the US was an easy decision. We packed up and moved and are legal permanent alien residents here (ET comes to mind, but this is how we're described in many official documents).
    Often we do feel like second tier citizens: we do contribute a lot to this country, yet have limited rights (voting is just one) and since we're eligible for citizenship, we have considered applying. That is not a small step, especially since The Netherlands does not allow dual citizenship for its own / original citizens (don't get me going on that one). In other words: if we become Americans, then we have to surrender our Dutch passport / citizenship / nationality. Again, that is not a small step, emotionally and economically. To the latter aspect: my Dutch passport is a work-permit for the entire EC and my permanent residency card, a.k.a. green card, for the US. With a US passport, I can only work in the US and Canada and need to apply for a work-permit everywhere else.

    We call (the great State of) Texas home and call ourselves Texans by choice. Traveling back to The Netherlands always feels good, but leaves us with the uneasy feeling that we're just visitors. Our (2nd) hometown is where we spend most time on those visits, yet the strongest pull is from the South. Last fall, we've also spent a week there and my wife was shocked to see "how I came even more alive" (as she put it). To the point that she has us wondering our retirement plans (still 1o years out).
    That sums up the question for me: where do I feel my roots are? The place / area / country where I spent my early childhood with my parents and brothers.

    Not a real answer, I realize, but hope some useful insight and food for thought.
    Last edited by MHe225; Feb 21, 2015 at 11:33 AM.
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    Mountebank MarkO's Avatar
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    The boarding school question is on two levels. We worry that living in such a tiny isolated place is not enough for a teenager.
    We have considered several options and one involves #1 going to boarding school and maybe delaying #2 until #3 and #4 are ready to go and then all 4 will be together possibly as day pupils with MrsO being there as well.
    That would leave me here to run the business for a few years to fund the whole experience.
    No solution is ideal.
    There is only 1 high school here with about 20 places a year so it is not like we have a great choice either way.
    Ultimately I suppose I don't want them coming back here as young adults. It's great for kids and great for me at this time in my life but the bit in between needs to take place in the wider world. Be that the UK or elsewhere I would like them not to feel like passing visitors without identity anywhere.
    MB2, SOH, Aquascope, Tangente, MM300, Blackbay, North Flag, Officer, Visitor.

  10. #6
    Honestly, I don't think it matters. The world is so multicultural now, and people travel and settle all over the place. I would be more concerned about them knowing who they are, and who their family is. A country? That's just geography as far as I'm concerned..

    Where would offer them the best options as they grow up is another question altogether....
    Last edited by OrangeSport; Feb 21, 2015 at 09:08 PM.
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  12. #7
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    I cannot identify with your personal struggle to identify a nationality. I can identify with being raised in a small, isolated community. Most of the people I grew up with still live there and have never even considered leaving. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but I do hate that they never even considered other opportunities.

    I would focus less on where they will identify with as their "roots", and I would focus more on ensuring they have the opportunity to experience as much as possible while growing up. This will avoid the greatest risk of living in a small community, which is isolation. Do not just take them to *see* things, but make sure they understand the possibilities. I would worry less about how they will speak about their home...I.E. their past....and more about how they will approach their future. My parents did that for me as I was growing up, and I thank them for it regularly.

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