You Got That Kid Americanized Yet?

Gina Butz culture, transition 1 Comment

I had to explain juice from concentrate to our kids today. I guess it just wasn’t high on my priority list, while we lived overseas, to introduce frozen juice to them. Actually, it probably just wasn’t available. It’s one of many gaps they have in their “American education.” I knew they’d be there; I just didn’t know where. They’re learning about frozen juice and soccer games and commercials and all sorts of things they didn’t have in Asia. If only that were enough.

If only it were enough to “Americanize” them. Someone honestly asked me that question the other night, “You got that kid Americanized yet?” My response was, “He will never be American.”

No, I realize our kids DO have American passports. Yes, they are American. But please understand that our kids, and any kids who have spent significant parts of their childhood outside of the U.S. will never see it the way we do, and it does a disservice to them not to recognize it.

Imagine if your parents were German, but you were born here in the U.S. Then one day, your parents pick you up and take you to Germany and say, “You’re home.” Would you feel at home? Even if you knew the language and looked German, you wouldn’t feel it the same way.

Over time, our kids will learn how to “be” American, but keep in mind that kids who have had the blessing and the challenge of spending formative years in another culture are forever changed by that experience. They see things differently.

I guess what I’m hoping for is that people don’t expect that our kids basically “get over it.” That they leave behind their expat upbringing and become like everyone else. That won’t happen, and I don’t want it to happen. After all, aren’t we who are Christians citizens of another kingdom? This world is not our home. Why try hard to make it feel that way?

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