In the last 100 years or so, we’ve seen an unprecedented boom of migration all over the world. Families migrate for all sorts of reasons, but usually, the reason is hinged upon improving their financial, educational, social, or cultural state.
However, like most ambition-oriented activities, the emotional or psychological consequences of migration are often underlooked. This is because humans are very good at discarding their psychological well-being when making plans for the future. And for the typical emigrating family, it is not the parents, but the children who have to suffer the bulk of the psychological impact of moving to new countries.
People often fail to pay attention to this underexplored area – as to how much children of immigrant families have to go through. I’m not talking about a family who moved to another country once and ended up settling there for the rest of their lives. I’m talking about those families who have had to frequently emigrate and immigrate to new cities or countries.
Take for example a good friend of mine who spent his childhood and teenage years in four different countries across three different continents: Morocco, Philippines, Canada, and Japan. The young adult he has become today is largely influenced by the mixture of his geographically and culturally diverse experiences.
Immigrant children who have lived in 3 or more countries during their childhood, teenage, or adolescent years are often the strongest people.
Their childhood was likely all over the place.
They didn’t get the chance to develop lasting childhood friendships.
They were always part of the minority, having to adjust themselves with their environment.
They were always seen as different, alien, or foreign, and had a hard time fitting in no matter how much they tried to blend in.
They never had a true home or a concretely defined national identity.
Their senses were constantly being fed by new environments, people, and cultures.
Their norms were being constantly reset.
They always had to work harder than their peers to achieve the same level of recognition, achievement, or success.
They become multilingual, yet English inevitably becomes their go-to language in most cases.
But on the bright side, all this adversity turns them into the strongest people with the strongest hearts.
It leaves them open to change and gives them the courage to welcome uncertainties and hardships.
They develop a high sense of self-awareness and learn how to leverage their differences for the benefit of themselves and others.
It fosters in them a hardworking, relentless, and tenacious approach to life.
It gives them the inner confidence to fight alone and do things independently.
It teaches them that change is the only constant and that everything in life is temporary.
They end up developing high self-confidence, a wider worldview, and the courage to do big things in life.
Instead of being limited to certain cultures and ways of life, they become open-minded global citizens.
They no longer fear changes and are not bothered by little inconveniences.
They become fearless lions. Anything and everything becomes a possibility. There is nothing too ‘far-fetched’ for them.
They develop an abundance mindset – knowing that there are always options available in life and it is okay to simply exist.
In the end, they learn how to live stronger – both physically and mentally.
So let us salute those among us who have had to constantly migrate as children. Yes, they’ve been through a lot of instability, but this is also what helped carve them into the strongest people. Indeed, this is the bittersweet impact of frequent emigration on children.