Parenting Challenges while on Séjour
One of the biggest challenges I had while living abroad was learning how to parent in a totally foreign environment. I hope my comments will be helpful to you - or at least you won’t be surprised!
Shifting rules and boundaries
In your home country, the family rules are straightforward and the boundaries are clear. You may not know all the answers, but you know most of them. When you move into a foreign culture, many of your old rules don’t apply. You have to make decisions on the fly.
Is it okay for my kid to go on a play date with a girl when I don’t know her parents? When I can’t even communicate with them? Is it okay for her to sleepover? Is it okay to let her go to the park without me?
They sense your uncertainty
Kids realize pretty quickly that you haven’t figured out the new rules and they will quickly use this to their advantage.
Mom, you don’t understand, EVERYONE brings candy on field trips. Mom, you don’t understand anything. They said I could stay for dinner and they will bring me home. Mom trust me, I know what they said.
The new environment brings out different things in different kids
Traveling exaggerated the differences between my girls. Sophia needed more freedom; Sasha needed more mommy time. Sophia needed less sleep, Sasha needed more sleep. It sounds so simple now, but in the middle of it all, it was hard to pinpoint exactly what was going on.
A note on solo parenting
Many séjour families make this arrangement work by sending mom and the kids to France while Dad stays home to work. The hardest part of this (for Mom!) is the emotional responsibility. You will miss your partner, your sounding board, and your co-decision maker. Don’t be too hard on yourself. You are taking on a lot by parenting in a foreign country. Just love your kids and enjoy the ride!