After 6 weeks on Canada’s West Coast, we’re back in the Big Mango, and we’re trying to parent our way through the cultural flip-flop! For our kids to be culturally aware and socially intelligent is a high priority for us. Equipping them with tools to navigate their fluid cultural identities needs to be one of the hallmarks of our parenting as we navigate life connected to several places around the world. Some may call them globe trotters, but we want them to feel at home and themselves in a multitude of locales.
That said, sometimes this journey manifests in the most basic of ways and we find ourselves saying the opposite of what we said just a few weeks ago:
- In Canada, “kids, please flush your used toilet paper. It doesn’t go in the garbage here”
- in Thailand, “ok, who flushed the toilet paper?!”
- In Canada, “I know you’re thirsty. Just get yourself some water. Yes, from the tap”
- In Thailand, “if you keep drinking the tap water, we’re going to have to stay home to keep you close to the toilet”
- In Canada, “take your sweater with you because you’re going to be cold”
- In Thailand, “no you cannot take off your pants here. Yes, I know it’s hot but this is not a pants-optional kind of setting”
- In Canada, “kids, just because they are Asian does not mean you wai (bow with your hands together) to greet them”
- In Thailand, “alright littles, time to bring your best wai game”
- In Canada, “you looked the wrong way when crossing the street. You have to look left first here”
- In Thailand, “you looked the wrong way when crossing the street. You have to look right first here”
- In Canada, “please use your fork and knife”
- In Thailand, “please use your spoon and fork”
- In Canada, “please keep your shoes on”
- In Thailand, “shoes off before you even step foot in there”
They are simple examples, but they remind us that our kids are navigating a maze of apparent cultural opposites when it comes to social norms. And so we journey through Thailanada (Thailand + Canada) as a family: third culture kids and their parents!
If you’d like to explore some cultural differences, check out this online tool where you can enter different countries to see how different cultural traits align (or don’t). CLICK HERE to see our three countries of Canada, Poland, and Thailand. Take the time to explore others!