Third Culture Kid

A third cultural kid is one who spends a significant amount of time during their developmental years away from their parent’s culture. This is often seen with children who have parents in military, business, or parents who are on religious missions.

The idea the child is a “third culture” rather than a second culture, or fourth comes from the one who coined the term of “Third Culture Kids.”


Sociologist Ruth Hill coined the TCK term after spending a few years with her three children in India. The term is meant to reflect the culture where the child was born(first culture), the culture the child was moved to (second culture), thus the first and second culture then create its own personal “third culture.”

According to the site Internations, TCK’s can often feel culture shock for their “home,” rather than moving to a new foreign country. This is due on behalf of how little the TCK might know of their “home” culture and the home culture’s practices. In essence, the TCK becomes a tourist to their home, yet everyone around them expects the TCK to know exactly what to do and how to act.

Kathleen Gilbert, a researcher on TCKs, wrote, “Losses that are not successfully resolved in childhood have an increased likelihood of recurring in adulthood… For TCKs, questions about who they are, what they are, where they are from, what and who they can trust are examples of existential losses with which they must cope.  And the way in which they process these losses will change, or may even wait until long after their childhood.”

Sure, on one hand being a TCK isn’t necessarily good for the psyche, but on the other hand a TCK lives in a way some may never get the chance to do. Focusing on the negatives isn’t going to change society or the world. In fact, more and more children are becoming TCKs, what with the higher demand for international trading and traveling.

Even now, when international traveling is slowly becoming commonplace, TCKs are popping up everywhere.

According to Jes, a TCK, “There are enough TCKs in the world to make their own country, with their own culture.”

Obviously, there won’t be another country sprouting up anytime soon just to support TCKs. Not only is making a country difficult, none of the TCKs would want to live in it very long. Many, like Jes, can’t stand being in one place for too long.

And is that so bad? To be strange in every country, yet be a stranger to none? Of course not. Being strange is the fruit of life.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s