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Expatriation: leaving with my children

Cooptalis
by Cooptalis Read time : 3min
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Expatriation is an adventure on which many would like to embark. However, it needs a concrete project with great preparation. It requires even more organization when you are considering moving with your family. Indeed, it is important to take into account the needs of the whole family, especially children.

Unlike you, they may not have chosen to move abroad. As a result, they will probably take a little longer to adjust.

As a parent, it is normal to have some concerns: Will they adapt to the new environment? Will the move abroad be good for them? Will they find their way easily? These are all questions that need to be asked before embarking on the great adventure. But rest assured, if properly prepared, expatriation will be a blessing. It will be as good professionally for the parents as it will be personally for the whole family.


To help, we've listed the things that need to be thought about before taking the plunge.

What are the ages most suitable for living abroad?

Some ages are more complex than others when it comes to adapting to a new country. Furthermore, several studies, including that of Kate Mace address this topic.
Many psychologists recommend that you maintain a basis that is identical to your old life. That way they can maintain some of their reference points. This can be done by the rules applied at home or even the decoration of their room.
You can also take a trip to the future country. Your child will be able to discover their future country and put down some markers. Children can also be involved in the preparations. They will then feel involved in the project, even if the decision to leave was not theirs.
It is important to understand which ages are more difficult for children when it comes to expatriation. For example, the study by Kate Mace shows that adaptation to a new country is more difficult for pre-adolescents and teenagers. They are more likely to be the subject of discrimination. Moreover, depending on the age, rejection of their new country can be demonstrated by different symptoms. Read about which symptoms may indicate poor integration according to age. The 7, 13 or 18 year olds are the most sensitive ages for adaptation to living abroad, according to psychologist Magdalena ZilvetiChaland.

The documents and vaccines to plan

When moving abroad with your children, you will need to provide certainspecific documents.
A valid passport is the first step. Some countries request that it be valid for 6 months or one year after you have left the country. It is therefore essential to check this first.Subsequently, each country will have its own immigration obligations with their own names. Generally, the child will need a residence permit. For example, in France, it is the DCEM: (document de circulation pour étranger mineur). It is compulsory for foreign minors residing in France.In any country, proof of the relationship between the child and their parent will be required to obtain this permit. (birth certificate, adoption ruling...). In the case of divorce or separation, the state may also request authorization from the other parent. This authorization will prove that they do not oppose their departure to another country.Most of the time, you will have to translate and legalize these documents in the country of origin for use in the destination country. This process can be complex and time consuming. Asking for multilingual birth certificates at the city council can save a few days on the immigration procedure!No country imposes special vaccinations to obtain the Visa. However, schools have the right to require that your child has had certain vaccines relevant to local life. If you already know your child's future school, find out immediately what vaccinations need to be performed.

The advantages

First, let’s discuss the benefits of expatriation for children. Living in a foreign country opens their minds. In effect, they are confronted by a culture different from their own.
They gain an insight to the world that other children of the same age may not have. Expatriation  is, from this point of view, a source of personal enrichment.
Additionally, expatriate schools, such as international or French schools, are often known to be among the best.
It is common for these expatriate children to obtain, moreover, better baccalaureate results. For example, in 2001, the success rate for French-language schools abroad was 90.20% compared to 78.8% for schools in France.Your child will also have a more advanced understanding of English, and is likely to finish this expatriation experience bilingual.

Third Culture Kids

Some children have become accustomed to expatriation from a young age. Traveling to fit their parents' working life, they have lived in several countries for varying periods of time. They are known as TCK: "Third Culture Kids". These little world citizens are a good example of the open-mindedness that expatriation brings. It is a characteristic trait that they often have.
Several studies show this, including that of Cécile Gylbert in his book about Third Culture Kids. From a very young age, they have been faced with different ways of life and different worldviews. They thus understand that there is no one way to think and act in any given situation. Their adaptability is therefore generally greater than that of other children.This allows them to adapt to several cultures, that of their country of origin and that of the countries of expatriation. However, they maintain a sense of being an outsider to these different cultures. They need to balance and create a sense of belonging in the face of this new environment. However, while having greater openness, their concepts of sense of purpose and identity will be more blurred.
These are the essential things to think about before moving abroad with your family. All you have to do is apply these tips and leave serenely on your great adventure!

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