Third Culture Kids: The Benefits and Challenges of a Global Upbringing


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Third Culture Kids (TCKs) are kids and teens who are growing up in one or more "foreign" cultures. Those who are now adults, but grew up this way during their developmental years, are referred to as ATCKs.

Included in this group of global citizens are: missionary kids (MKs) and the children of military personnel (military brats), children of diplomats, globally mobile corporate employees, humanitarian aid workers, and any other expat kids and teens who are spending their childhood outside of their parents' home country, also referred to as their passport country.

Their parent's country is their first culture. The foreign countries they live in are their second culture(s). TCKs may move around a little or a lot, living in one or multiple second culture(s). Their third culture is not a geographical place at all, and does not refer to a country...

Living in Bolivia - Third Culture Kids

The third culture is the identity they create for themselves by blending experiences and memories from all of the cultures they've lived in. This invisible third culture, the way they begin to define themselves, can only be fully understood by other TCKs. In this special section just for expat families, we'll be exploring the advantages of a global upbringing, and the hardships and difficulties kids and teens face as they attempt to develop a sense of self in an ever-changing, culturally disrupted environment.

Third Culture Kids often feel that they don't fully belong anywhere. Their parents' home country is often the place they feel most foreign. The most difficult question for a TCK to answer is "Where are you from?" Their global upbringing gives them advantages, but many grow up feeling rootless.

We'll be adding articles periodically on specific TCK topics and will list them below. You will be able to comment on our articles, and if you are a TCK, Adult TCK, or parent of a TCK, we would love to hear your stories.



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