If your family emigrated as a child, how did it impact on you?

(34 Posts)
BigGwen Fri 02-Sep-16 19:58:49

Thinking of moving overseas but have primary school age children who are very settled, doing well and school and have lots of friends.

I am worried about how a move might affect the children so wanted to ask your experiences.

Did you find it difficult to forgive your parents and feel desperate to go home and resume old life, or did you embrace the new experience and make friends quickly, never looking back?

Thanks in advance

BigGwen Fri 02-Sep-16 23:14:18

Bump for overseas people

How long would you go for and how old are your dcs? (Bearing in mind that I don't know anyone who has stuck to the proposed duration of a posting - met someone this week who arrived in Texas 14 years ago for 2 years).

My parents emigrated to Spain when I was 9. I was very close to my gram and missed her terribly. If it hadn't been for that I probably would have been ok, but it made me very homesick. We came back 4 years later and I spent the next few years homesick for Spain! grin

Fwiw, my best friends parents moved to NZ, and she went with them. 10 years later she is miserable. Her family are there. Her friends are here and no matter where she is she always feels homesick for the other place. She's early 30's now.

HereIAm20 Sat 03-Sep-16 17:45:34

I think primary school is fine. My parents moved us to the US just after O levels (16). I had a boyfriend here in England and was at that age!!! I came back to a job in a bank just before my 18th in 1982 and my parents and sister stayed - still there 34 years on. Needless to say I am not with that boyfriend and would have had to qualify in my own right to go back. Primary and KS4 I would say are fine but think about educational aspects if you intend on returning at some point.

BigGwen Sat 03-Sep-16 17:56:02

Dc are 5 and 7. Are incredibly close to both sets of grandparents and lots of friends at school. The posting would be for 2 years minimum to see how we liked it.

habibihabibi Sat 03-Sep-16 19:51:40

I'd say do it .
Sell it as a big adventure and don't dwell on the differences. You will be far more effected than the children but if it's a great opportunity , go for it .
I can't think of many cities in the world that take more than 24 hours to get back to the U.K. If you need too. Days gone by it was far harder but now we have Skype and my children can "see " their grandparents everyday if they want too .

OdinsLoveChild Sat 03-Sep-16 20:04:30

My parents took me and my siblings abroad when I was 12. I hated leaving my friends and family and never settled. I came back to the UK age 18 thinking it would be easy to carry on as before but all my friends and family had moved on with their lives and I was having to start all over again and alone with no friends. It was bloody difficult and took years to settle properly. 1 of my siblings stayed and another 1 followed me about 18 months later.

I think I was just the wrong age really to go. I left friends behind and found it hard to make new ones because by 12-13 most children already have established friend groups. My younger siblings fit right in and were considered to their new school friends to be these amazing foreigners with stories about foreign cities and cultures.

If your children are primary age then it can be an amazing experience for them but by the time they're high school age I think the usual charms of moving to a foreign land will be less attractive.

SavoyCabbage Sat 03-Sep-16 20:09:03

We've just come back to the uk after seven years. One of my dc can't remember living here at all but they have both adjusted quite quickly. One of the things they talk about now is how they have all of these people in their lives whereas where we were before they didn't have anyone around them who lived them apart from their parents and each other.

bonzo77 Sat 03-Sep-16 20:13:27

I think Like with most things it's impossible to say, though also like with most big changes, the younger the kids are the easier it is. We did 2.5 years in Australia when I was 6ish and my brother was 4ish. We are very different personalities, he barely remembers it. It left me scarred for life. Not sure if coming back to the uk (we were always going to come back) exacerbated or mitigated the damage. I'll never know.

anotherdayanothersquabble Sat 03-Sep-16 20:21:59

I moved a lot as a child but in Ireland where moving further than down the road had you pegged as a 'blow in' even if you subsequently stayed for 20 years. As a result, I never felt settled amd have carried on moving.

My children are now living an expat life and it is difficult, they see friends move on all the time and do long to go 'home' for holidays, which we do. Long term, I don't think they will find it hard to forgive me buT I wonder if they will find deep roots or have itchy feet.

ShanghaiDiva Sun 04-Sep-16 10:03:33

I think it's much easier with children of primary school age. We moved ds from Germany to China when he was 8 and he settled really quickly, but when we leave China I know it will be harder for dd as she has been here most of her life. We moved here when she was 2 and she will be 12 when we leave.
We have been overseas for over 20 years so my dcs have never lived in the same country as their grandparents and this makes decisions to move a little easier. As pp mentioned I wonder how it will affect my dc later and if they will have permanent itchy feet.

I moved as a child for three years. I loved it after the first six months, learnt a new language, also how to be adaptable and that people are all different but the same.

How has it affected me? I love to travel; I live in a third country now. I think I'm stoic most of the time!

I kept my UK best friend and acquired an Italian one, who we just spent a lovely week with. Now my DD has met her DSs. Really special full circle.

I am and was always a massive extrovert who loved to talk. So I had to jump in. It's much harder if you have introverts.

naturalbaby Tue 06-Sep-16 21:31:59

I did near the beginning of primary school and moved my kids when they were a similar age (3, 5). My struggles were due to the fact that we moved so far and didn't return till I was an adult so I effectively only saw a lot of my relatives a handful of times again. A big difference now is that we are in Europe and see family and friends several times a year, and talk to family every week.
My parents struggled in the first few years with very little support and I found it difficult to talk to my mum about my own issues. I've tried to be very open with my kids and talk about everything so that they feel involved and that they have choices and some control.

I am still heartbroken about the life and friends we left behind - school life is very different now and I miss the school gate chat and coffee mornings every day. I think almost daily about going back to our old life, but we made a choice and I am slowly accepting that we have moved on.
It's been a few years now and my dc's are asking to move to another country so they can learn a new language!

HPandBaconSandwiches Tue 06-Sep-16 23:03:17

This thread has really shaken me. We're soon to migrate to Oz with our 6 and 3 year olds. Does anyone have positive feelings about having emigrated as a child? Bonzo how did it scar you for life??

HuckfromScandal Tue 06-Sep-16 23:11:13

I loved it
I moved to SA when I was 7.
Totally wonderful childhood. I feel far more South African than I do British, even although I have been back here a long time.
Still have very close friends there. I did find it hard to settle back here, but feel "at home" here now too.
But I don't regret my folks taking me for one single second.
I have a much broader view of the world than most of my contemporaries as a result. And I am less quick to judge reports from media etc having witnessed (from both sides) how things are distorted to their own agenda. (Although I sense that a lot more people are aware of this now).

I love having 2 cultures that belong to me.

The only downside is not ever feeling like I truly belong in one place, but it's a small price to pay.

bonzo77 Wed 07-Sep-16 07:15:18

HP remember we came back. Which was part of the problem. I was super shy / sensitive and at a very small school in the uk. I found it impossible to integrate in school in Aus and was bullied horribly. It didn't help that I was academically quite advanced and that was a further axe for the bullies to grind. The teachers were no better. My mother also was having a shit shit time and took it out on me. When we returned to the uk I was a shell of my former (already rather delicate) self. I returned to my previous school which had changed and felt too much like the one in Australia, and had the misfortune to be in a class taught by a bully who had favourites. Things improved a little 2 years later with the move to secondary school. By the time I reached uni I was both desperate for acceptance but very wary of getting too involved with groups in case I was let down or bullied (which had continued to happen at secondary).

I firmly blame my parents. Or specifically my mother. It all might have gone the same way if we'd stayed in the UK. She never seemed to notice or care about what was happening. I was certainly too little to deal with it myself and had learnt really not to say too much.

HPandBaconSandwiches Wed 07-Sep-16 07:30:06

Thanks Huck it's good to hear you feel a sense of belonging to both places, rather than neither.

Bonzo thanks for explaining. Your childhood sounds like a cold corner of hell to be honest, so I'm not surprise you feel scarred. Such sad reading. I hope you've managed to find some happiness as an adult. flowers

It sounds like the parental approach is vital, so I'll put on my best brave face even when worried and try my best to make it an adventure.

nilbyname Wed 07-Sep-16 07:42:38

I lived overseas as a young teen/adult. It was fantastic! But unwound agree with the person who said they jumped right in. I'm a chatterbox extrovert so I felt confident to make new friends and embrace new experiences.

Glastokitty Wed 07-Sep-16 07:49:27

My son moved aged 11, he's now 15. He's loved it from the start and says he has no interest in going back to Ireland, except to visit his grannies. He particularly remembers the shit weather, and does not miss it. I think it has broadened his mind a lot and given him confidence, he talks about perhaps living in London for a few years when he is older (we lived there for a while), but he says he wouldn't stay there for ever. He applied for an academic placement in school here when we had been here a year, when the headmaster interviewed him he was asked what his greatest difficulty was and how he'd overcome it, he explained that he had been worried about emigrating to a brand new country, as he didn't know what to expect, but it was easy really and he was very glad we had done it.

There are of course negatives. He will be more rootless than his cousins back in Ireland who have strong inter generational connections and a strong sense of place. But he doesn't miss what he doesn't have. I moved towns when I was a child due to my parents divorce, I really think it makes it easier to move when you are older, whether that's a positive or negative is down to the individual.

Personally I think living in a new country is a terrific adventure and opportunity for any child, but horses for courses.

Buzzybuzzybee Wed 07-Sep-16 11:36:33

We moved permanently to nz when I was 9. My sisters who were 7 and 5 integrated fully and feel like they were born there. I found it harder and although I love nz, I consider myself to have two homes. I do always feel a bit of an outsider now wherever I live though. I think the earlier you move, the better.
I did enjoy seeing different places and people though and on the whole wouldn't change it. I feel like I'm a 'third culture kid' although I don't really fit the definition of it.

StMary Thu 08-Sep-16 12:57:40

This is really interesting reading...

BigGwen we are currently considering a move to Switzerland in early 2017 and my DC are nearly 5 (starting reception next week so the timing of this move is pretty bad tbh) and 2.

On the face of it I love the idea of them learning French and us all skiing and swimming in lakes but I'm sure the reality might not be so peachy. I think the DC would cope ok actually, but I do worry about longer-term 'damage' - how will they feel if/when we return to the UK, will they be behind academically, will they always feel like foreigners if we stay, will the disruption swallow up their confident little personalities and stress them out, are we being selfish for even considering going when we have a nice life here with grandparents and friends spitting distance away?

Sounds silly, but my eldest wants to learn to play piano. We were on the cusp of buying one and sorting lesson when this job offer came up. If we move to Switzerland, they have loads of funny rules about neighbours and disturbance, and a lot of it is apartment-living so I don't know that we can take a piano with us so looks like that might not be possible now.

We are just at a point where life is getting easier for us all now that DC2 is 2 so the thought of the hassle of moving and settling and all that puts me off. DH and I are happy at work so life is good at the moment... But if we don't take this opportunity I'm not sure we'll ever consider working abroad again as we'll be even more entrenched in life here as our eldest starts school and all that entails.

I love the idea of swimming in the lake in the summer and skiing in the winter and being in the middle of Europe (albeit not in the EU!!) and just having a good fun story to tell in the future. It looks like a lovely place for children to grow up (safe, clean, good schools etc) and the language opportunities are a huge attraction.... but it is a faff and a disruption which we could very live to regret...................

We've lived abroad before DC btw, had a great time and loved it. We've always wanted to go somewhere again, but now we're staring the opportunity in the face it's bloody scary.

NewNameNows Thu 08-Sep-16 13:28:56

My family (Mum Dad and Me) emigrated to Australia back in the day. I grew up with no family other than my parents. No Nanas or Grandads, Aunties or Uncles nor cousins. They all lived back in the UK and I never ever got to know them. Am now early 50s and moved back to the UK about 30 years ago but have no family. I never contacted any of them (big family) because I never knew them or grew up with them so they are not part of my life. Have always felt different to others and grew up with no one else other than my immediate family. Would have liked to have had the extended families some people have.

sayatidaknama Thu 08-Sep-16 13:54:25

We moved abroad when my DC were 11, 9 and 6. We'll be heading home at the very latest in 2 years time, when the eldest is 16. I don't think they are too scarred by it all. It's been challenging at times but at the very least, by that time, they will all speak at least 3 languages fluently and will find any future academic environment a breeze having been immersed in one of the toughest (if not the toughest) educational systems in the world, and in forrin grin

mumhum Fri 09-Sep-16 15:25:28

St Mary, we moved to Switzerland early this year. DS1 had only just done a term in reception and it actually really helped that he got the routine of school but had not embedded fully in to his UK school so he settled here really quickly. An International School which is very English which helps. At age 5 he already has such a broad outlook on life amd has friends from all over the world. DC2 was 9 months so life was getting easier. The move was not so much of a hassle and life here is great, we do swim in lakes and rivers, and ski in the winter.

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