By Jade Carracedo - 3 December 2013
When moving abroad for work there are many things that you will need to take into consideration, and the impact that relocating could have on your family will no doubt be in the forefront of your mind. Depending on where you are moving to, the decision of whether to take your family with you or leave them behind will be one that needs a considerable amount of thought.
For some, the difficult decision to leave kids behind stems from the lack of opportunities that will be available in the parents’ new country. In some cases the only appropriate option will be for children to remain in their home country, as the education offered in many countries will not be able to accommodate children’s specific needs. For example, not all countries have the same advanced facilities for children with disabilities or learning difficulties as can be found in most western countries.
The majority of expat parents choosing to leave their children behind will place them in boarding school. In the same way as schooling in an international institution abroad, this can have its advantages and disadvantages.
What are the positives?
First and foremost, by allowing your child to stay in their home country you are saving them from the upheaval of relocating. It is a common misconception that children are able to adapt more easily than adults to new environments. What is more, your children will be able to continue their education in surroundings that they are familiar with, avoiding any potentially detrimental impact.
This especially applies to families in which parents regularly move between different countries for work. Putting children into boarding school in their home country gives them stability. It means they will not have to repeatedly go through the process of making friends and building relationships only to then have to say goodbye and start again from scratch somewhere new.
There is also the same multicultural environment available to your children by attending boarding schools, that they would have in a foreign country; just without the stress of moving away from home. In the UK, for example, 35% of students that attend boarding schools are foreign nationals or from expat families.
And the negatives?
It depends where you are moving to and from, however, it may be that the quality of education and the long-term benefits of living abroad outweigh the familiarity and security of continuing education at home.
Children who have experienced living in another country besides their passport country have be coined ‘Third Culture Kids’; those who spend a large part of their formative years outside of their home country.
Living abroad during childhood has been proven to have a positive impact on children, whether it be with regards to future career prospects or the possession of a more global outlook on life.
Things to consider
Is it vital that children who do remain in their home country when parents relocate still have a support network around them. When choosing a boarding school it is a good idea to look at ones close to family members or friends still in the country.
Children need to be put in a school where ‘full-boarding’ is offered, as they will not be able to go home at weekends like some of the others. Therefore, it is also important that you find out how many other kids at the school remain on campus at weekends.
If you do decide to move your kids with you to your new country, it is also necessary to consider how well your child will reintegrate when you return, in order to avoid what has been termed ‘reverse culture shock’.
There is no right or wrong answer to the question of whether to take your children abroad with you or not, it is always down to your own personal circumstances and what will benefit your individual child most.