The way that we are brought up in specific cultures influences our personality and values. For example, a child who grew up in America would see the world differently from one who grew up in India. Culture is defined as “the beliefs, way of life and customs that are shared and accepted by people in a particular society”. However, due to globalization, a different type of upbringing has arisen known as the third culture kid.
The Third Culture Kids (TCKs) are known as “people who have spent a portion of their formative childhood years 0-18, in a culture different than that of their parents.” These children are primarily children of those who are in the military, missionaries, diplomats, and those with parents who hold international job postings due in part to globalization and shifts in the global economy. The TCKs are usually characterized by those who live in at least four different countries with 85 percent speaking at least two languages. This is only a glimpse of the positive and negative impacts that living in a different culture can have on the development and character of a child.
Some positive aspects of TCKs include the cultural awareness they develop and with it, the ability to experience their environment while learning to adapt. With cultural awareness, they experience firsthand the importance of multiculturalism, change, acceptance, and tolerance. They begin to take up certain parts of that culture and give parts of their own culture; this creates a unique individual who cannot be defined by the standards of society. With this exchange of information, classifications by nationality or culture alone do not apply, instead it becomes a blend of cultures that are influenced by multiculturalism and experiences attained during the important developmental stages of the child.
The minds of TCKs learn to adapt to situations and lifestyles in different environments altering the way decisions are made and how world issues are viewed. Adaptation plays an important role in how decisions are made while the exposure to different cultures provides the necessary tools to analyze and form opinions on different aspects of major world issues with empathy, conviction, and assertiveness.
Multiculturalism is usually considered the historical evolution with cultural diversity in specific areas rather than people. However, with TCKs it may be possible for this definition to evolve. A branch of psychology known as Cross Culture Psychology has begun to study and understand TCKs. Experimental trails have been done on the cognitive process and surveys, thus challenging the methodology of cross culture psychology and multiculturalism. It seems as if this is only the beginning of a vast field of future study with better understanding.
Though this has been a positive breakthrough for many in the field, it has also shown the negative aspects of TCKs. In a study it was shown that while the children who grew up in different cultures had more empathy and understanding for different cultures, their emotional stability was far lower than those who did not grow up across different cultures. The emotional issues concerning long term commitments, settling, and greater risk of instability are a possible negative effects that can affect the TCKs.
Although study and research has been done, there is more to be seen with the cultural and psychological effects of those who grew up as TCKs. Though many doubt this practice, or their ability to be a mix of multiple cultures, the evidence is clear and has been shown throughout the experimental studies done by psychologists on multi-cultural children, such as TCKs. In conclusion, TCKs could be the future leaders and we will see many of them creating great changes in the world we live in today, and our views on multiculturalism. They will create a new wave of individuals with the capacity to understand issues affecting the world today. This understanding comes in a different way because of how they have developed the ability to adapt, change, and reinvent themselves regardless oh how it was originally done by the natural process of self-preservation. The TCKs ability to understand multiculturalism provides them with a unique way of processing information thus affecting decision making that it is influence by the empathy they have developed.