What is the name of the city or town that you are reporting on?
How is being a parent in your destination country different than in your home country?
I found that I was more isolated. Most of the expats in Kuala Lumpur had very young children whereas my son was a teenager so it was difficult to find groups that he could join.
Also, the education system was very different and, even in International schools, the resources were often limited.
What are the strengths of your home culture's parenting style? What are the weaknesses?
In the UK, parents talk a lot to their children, encouraging them to participate in working out problems and solutions. Education is more about working in teams to solve problems, rather than just completing worksheets as was often the case in local schools in Malaysia.
What are the strengths of your destination culture's parenting style? What are the weaknesses?
I tutored students in Malaysia and was shocked at the level of studying that the children do. The Chinese and Korean families seemed to emphasis learning, with children often having several hours of tutors, studying and so on after school. One Korean boy that I taught started his studies at 3.30 am! While the parents seemed happy with this situation, I had children burst into tears, declare that they hated their parents and punch the desk in frustration. I think, therefore, its important that education is made more friendly and engaging, rather than enforced.
Are there specific changes you have made to your parenting style while living abroad with your family? If yes, what are these changes?
I was unhappy with the standard of education in the International school that my son attended, so I removed him and began to homeschool instead. It was challenging for us both but I was surprised how much I enjoyed learning. Homeschooling brought us much closer together and also avoided the many teenage problems that are common in that age group. My son is now studying a History Honours degree in the UK so homeschooling certainly worked for us.
In addition, we used the material that we created during our homeschool years to set up a business to provide educational resources to other families and teachers - www.lesson-library.com
Overall, has the impact of being an expat positively influenced your parenting or negatively influenced your parenting? Why?
I believe that the difficulties and challenges that we faced living in Malaysia have brought our family much closer together. We learned to depend on each other, to communicate with each other and to enjoy activities together as a family.
Do you have any advice or other thoughts about being a parent while living abroad?
Integration into the local community can be difficult, and expat often don't have children the same age as your children, so it's important to cultivate a good family relationship. Go out as a family and explore your new country, go to concerts and events and use the time to strengthen your own family.