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Topic: Identity Crisis - Where am I really from??  (Read 3957 times)

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Identity Crisis - Where am I really from??
« on: May 11, 2002, 04:47:10 AM »
Well thought I would I get some parenting advice since the subject came up and I am having a very difficult time with it.  And actually these comments/questions are geared towards Yankeelady and Biggest Apple in mind (not that other opinions are not welcomed  ;D.)  Since both have married someone who is not an American citizen.

So he brought up the subject of wanting to  buy a house, then of course the rest came into play - marriage, and children. Basically settle down.  And he wanted to know where I wanted to settle down.  Of course I'm sure you all know my answer to that question..  ;)  

Here's my dilema I want my children to be raised in the states at some point in their life.  This is EXTREMELY IMPORTANT TO ME.  I don't mind being here for the first 5 years of their life but at some point I want to go back home to NY to be near my family.  

If for any reason it does not work that way (1) How do you as a parent instill the love of a country when you're not living there?   So a child has a mother from the U.S. and a father from Belgium but born in the UK - (2) can't have triple citzenship can they?  And if not, (3)  Does it make them American and UK citizens?  What happens if you want them to be an American and Belgium citizen and not UK (but child was still born in the UK)  (4) What is a child suppose to say when asked where he/she from? I have dual citizenship (US and Belgium) but was raised in the UK.  How are they going to identify with a country?  What country do they identify with?

I am having a very difficult time knowing that I may not be able to raise my children to be American.  And when I say that, I mean it in loyalty, in the pledge of allegience to the flag, knowing how it feels to live there your entire life and to be so damn proud to say, Yes, I am an American.  Then I think would they really deserve to be an American citizen  (I know that sounds totally irrational, selfish, etc.) when they can't experience first hand because they're not "raised there".  Just because they were born from an American mom doesn't make them know, understand and appreciate the true meaning of being an American.

How do you raise kids to be American when they don't even live there?  Biggest Apple, I know you said your little boy is 11.  If you ask him what's his nationality what does he say?

I'm sure this will all iron out one way or the other.  But since the ball is rollin' for me I might as well start asking the questions.  Also how is the school system here vs. the U.S. schools (and I mean private schools in the U.S. not public).
An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile--hoping it will eat him last."Forgiveness is up to God. I just hope we hurry up the meeting." 02.08.03, Gen. Schwarzkoph It's the SILENT MAJORITY that COUNTS not the LOUD MINORITY that CONSTANTLY WINES! http://www.leftnuts.com/images/fu_marines1.jpg
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Re: Identity Crisis - Where am I really from??
« Reply #1 on: May 12, 2002, 12:50:21 AM »
Well, this is a tough one to answer. Mainly because my perspective is different from yours. To me being an American is part of who I am but no more. I am very proud of my country, but not to the point of putting blinders on (not implying you are). If you asked my son where he is from he would tell you he is half-Dutch and half-American.
In my experience a child will have a far more romantic view of a place they don't live in. In other words your children may actually love the US more if they're not there. The US is a magical place they go to visit where there's no homework, grandparents and other relatives who spoil them and every one is relaxed and happy.
If you ask the average New Yorker where the Empire State building is they couldn't tell you. Why? Total disinterest. It's for the tourists. But ask someone who's only lived in NY for five or ten years and they light up, they know all the best ways to get there and where you should go afterwards.

I think however there is a much bigger issue at hand. All your life you've had a set idea in your head of what having a family and children would be like and it probably didn't involve someone from another country. These children you'll hypothetically have will be European as much as they are American. The American part isn't better or bigger. It might be for you, but their Dad and his family are European. You'll have to honor that side of who they are.

For me growing up in the States I always had the impression that there was the USA and then there was the rest of the world. Personally, I'd like my kids to feel like they are world citizens with all the advantages and responsibilities that entails. Sometimes I feel like I must come across as slightly less than patriotic, which is definitely not the case. It's just that I'd like to be a part of more of the world as well. It's something that I also want for my kids. Imagine being able to grow up and have the chance to work anywhere you want in the world. Your kids would have that advantage.

As far as schools go - I find the English schools a difficult comparison. You'll have to learn as much as the kids because it's a different set-up. Having said that my kids are getting the equivalent of a private education in a public (state) school. Part of this is down to where we live. In other areas this would certainly not be the case. If you really want them to have an American education, there is an American school in Surrey and I believe in London as well. This is where American parents who have been relocated here for a few years by their US home offices tend to send their kids. Not cheap, but very good standards. I wouldn't bother sending my kids. If we moved back to the US now they'd probably be about two years ahead of their peers anyway.

Your child can have dual citizenship. Not sure about triple. In the end no matter how you work it they will not be 100% American. I think you really have to ok with that and more than that see the greatness in it for their sakes.


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Re: Identity Crisis - Where am I really from??
« Reply #2 on: May 13, 2002, 04:52:22 PM »
Wow, well said, Kirk.

[smiley=speechless.gif]


Re: Identity Crisis - Where am I really from??
« Reply #3 on: May 13, 2002, 08:43:00 PM »
OK I will be the voice of doom.  Before you make this permanent step think very,very cafefully.  One of you is going to have to make a huge sacrifice.  You're going to have to give up family, friends, your culture, your sense of identity.  And once you have kids it gets even harder.  Right now it's not too difficult to get  home, but once you have a baby-or a baby and a toddler, it's alot more effort.  And the older they get  the more expensive it gets.  12 year olds pay full fare.   Plus when they reach school age, you're very limited when you can go.  
If the plan is to move before they reach school age-it's not going to be that easy.  By then you'll have a well established life here.-friends, house,mortgage, more stuff than you can imagine.   All that  and  finding a house, job and health insurance.  
Your kids will be fairly adaptable, but they will resent having grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles that they never see.  Plus their idea of America will be based on TV and visits home-which are non-stop bar-b-qs, doting relatives and trips to the mall.    And there is no-one more unhappy than a grandmother who lives 3000 miles away from her grandchildren.
And legally,  if it doesn't work out and you want to split up-if  your children have lived the majority of their lives here, your husband has the legal right to stop you taking them out of the country.  
I know that I sound extremely grim, but these are things that you need to think about
 


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Re: Identity Crisis - Where am I really from??
« Reply #4 on: May 13, 2002, 09:32:16 PM »
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OK I will be the voice of doom.  Before you make this permanent step think very,very cafefully.  One of you is going to have to make a huge sacrifice.  You're going to have to give up family, friends, your culture, your sense of identity.



No, THANK YOU..  You are not the voice of doom but the voice of being realistic.  This is what I am struggling with all those things that you have said.  My family is much bigger than my BF's (minimum 15-18 at any given family affair vs. his 4..)  Giving all that up is really making me think.  The BF lived his first 8 years of his life in Africa, lived in Belgium, Taiwan, Hong Kong, etc.  He is use to not being around family.   Whereas myself I was born, raised, and bred in one town.  With the exception of college (which happened to be in Rome but I knew it was not permanent!!)

I had no clue that if a child has lived the majority of their life here that the spouse would have the legal right to keep them in this country.  Even if the mother is from another country?  So I guess it's from experience that you say children will resent not having family around?  That's one of my biggest fears.  No family here in London.  No one.

You've been here for 12 years (I guess according to your screen name).   How did you decide?  Was it a hard choice?
An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile--hoping it will eat him last."Forgiveness is up to God. I just hope we hurry up the meeting." 02.08.03, Gen. Schwarzkoph It's the SILENT MAJORITY that COUNTS not the LOUD MINORITY that CONSTANTLY WINES! http://www.leftnuts.com/images/fu_marines1.jpg
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Re: Identity Crisis - Where am I really from??
« Reply #5 on: May 13, 2002, 09:51:24 PM »
Well, I feel I should point out that if you and your BF were living in say LA and you seperated and you then wanted to move to NY, he'd have every right to keep you in LA. Custody is not a country specific issue.

As far as resentment goes - my kids have no resentment at all. One set of grandparents in Holland, one in the US. They love it! They see them during vacations and on special occassions. The time is magical for them.
« Last Edit: May 13, 2002, 11:57:39 PM by biggest_apple »


Re: Identity Crisis - Where am I really from??
« Reply #6 on: May 13, 2002, 10:07:33 PM »
It was more of an uninformed choice than an easy choice.  My husband is English, we lived in MASS for awhile,  then because of family pressure (his mum), homesickness, and mostly career opportunities we moved  here.  Let's face it, you've got to live where the main bread winner can have the best options.  
I've been here 12 years .  I have a 13 year old,  11 year old, and a five year old.  Truthfully I find it more of a culture shock going home, than coming back.   Drive 10 miles for a  pint of millk!  you must be joking! :)  
My kids think of themselves as English.  But we made a commitment to live here and felt it important that they were raised to feel that way.  I do make an effort with American stuff,  we have Thanksgiving and invite our English family, we have a big fourth of July bar-b-q and invite all our English friends and neighbors (we're known as the family with the American flag on our road).  And I've tried hard to teach them American history, stories, and folk songs.  You would have been amused at my reaction to my daughters homework on the Puritans(what do you mean, there's no mention of oppresion, persecution and freedom of religion)  but I think she also has a more balanced view of the world than most children.  Coming from a multicultural family,  she is more aware that there is more than one view to most situations.  
I think that they do miss out on the big American family experience.  They have cousins who are a similar age that they don't  see often.  My sister-in-law is not a very involved aunt and I know that my sisters would be.  And it seems like my family only  see my kids in high stress situations when they are not at their best.  I miss my sisters and resent missing out on family events and even jokes.  
It's not all bad.  My kids are happy, have a rich life and have travelled alot more than their friends.  I have good friends over here and like the life-style.  You get used to the size of things-my fridge doesn't fill up with  stuff past it's  use-by date.  And you do  realize how much unneccesary stuff  there is in the States-I've been known to get overwhelmed in the cake isle.  
I'm not unhappy, but I do wish I'd thought of these things 13 years ago.  


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Re: Identity Crisis - Where am I really from??
« Reply #7 on: May 14, 2002, 12:53:51 AM »
Oh, dear......so much advice.  THANK YOU...  Even my mom (to my surprise) agreed with some point of views from our board here.  I read her all the responses to her so of course she would have to have her say.  

And here are some of her responses. Talk about motherly advice.  I'm even more confused now than I was in the beginning.  "Oh, your kids would have experiences others wouldn't have in the states - (learning different languages, travel to other countries, etc.) "the education is better there because you're exposed to more".  "But then again if you raise your children here (NY) you just enroll them in private shool, the international overseas school over in Larchmont".  "Of course, I would miss having my own grandchildren but we would visit every other month." (Glen's eyes popped out of his head on that one  ;D)  "Besides you wouldn't be there forever so it's not like they're not going to remember living there".  "You would be here before they started school"..  "You know Yvonne you have to be flexible now and have to compromise."  "You have to sacrifice certain comforts you were use to back home."  "But then again, you're the one who left everything so you did sacrifice a lot already."  And I wonder why my head is spinning.. .. :o   ;D
An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile--hoping it will eat him last."Forgiveness is up to God. I just hope we hurry up the meeting." 02.08.03, Gen. Schwarzkoph It's the SILENT MAJORITY that COUNTS not the LOUD MINORITY that CONSTANTLY WINES! http://www.leftnuts.com/images/fu_marines1.jpg
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Re: Identity Crisis - Where am I really from??
« Reply #8 on: May 14, 2002, 01:05:31 AM »
Sounds like you've got a very smart Mom. Sound observations, but no telling you what to do in the end. Seems like you come from good stock - you'll make the right choices. ;)


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Re: Identity Crisis - Where am I really from??
« Reply #9 on: May 14, 2002, 01:43:34 AM »
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Sounds like you've got a very smart Mom.  Seems like you come from good stock - you'll make the right choices. ;)


Yes, mom's a good bunny.  (Quite crazy with all her antics but then again I guess that's where I get it from.  ;D ) Thanks for the confidence  :)...I'm sure I (we) will eventually.
An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile--hoping it will eat him last."Forgiveness is up to God. I just hope we hurry up the meeting." 02.08.03, Gen. Schwarzkoph It's the SILENT MAJORITY that COUNTS not the LOUD MINORITY that CONSTANTLY WINES! http://www.leftnuts.com/images/fu_marines1.jpg
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Re: Identity Crisis - Where am I really from??
« Reply #10 on: May 14, 2002, 03:27:04 AM »
Maybe it would help to make a list.  Write down all the pros and cons of living in the UK, then write a similar list of the pros and cons of living in New York.  Include everything you can think of.  Then prioritize, narrow it down:  What are the most important reasons you want to stay in the UK?  What are the most important reasons you want to go back to New York?  As you prioritize, try to narrow down until you arrive at your core priorities.  You may not be a "list" kind of person and this may not work for you, but sometimes doing this helps me to sort things out.  

And have faith.  Believe in yourself.  You will make the right decision.  


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Re: Identity Crisis - Where am I really from??
« Reply #11 on: May 14, 2002, 06:20:35 AM »
I learned a trick for decision making which helps me sometimes.  Keep in mind the type of person that I am.  I will analyze a situation to death and then analyze it all over again before I actually do anything!  ::)

But this seemed to help me.  It doesn't work for every situation, but it's always worth a shot.  

Give yourself a time limit.  Like say one month.  During that one month have your mind made up to stay in the UK.  Don't think about what if or but or whatever.  Treat it as you've already made the decision.  Then when the one month period is over change your mind.  Spend the following month with the mindset to move back the states.  After the second month has passed, go with the decision you were most at peace with.

Sometimes you'd be surprised at the outcome you get.    ;)

Whatever you do don't beat yourself up over it.  The best that any person can do is what they think is right at the time - no more, no less.
« Last Edit: May 14, 2002, 06:21:45 AM by Audrey »
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Re: Identity Crisis - Where am I really from??
« Reply #12 on: May 14, 2002, 10:42:39 AM »
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I will analyze a situation to death and then analyze it all over again before I actually do anything!  ::)


OH YES, do I know where you're coming from.  I am the same way as you - as you probably gathered.  I will think about something for days, months, sometimes even years (belly ring, i.e.), depending upon the severity/importance of it.  But once I come to the decision I make it and don't turn back.  But during that process oh how I beat myself up, and talk it over with the GF's, brother, M&D, (people whom I trust), etc.  I gather up all the info and ususally go with what's in my heart (mose of the time) but there have been times where I listened to my head vs. my heart.  I personally think it's a female thing.  Women always tend to over analyze everything.  

Thanks for the idea.  I never heard of that one before and probably will give it a shot if I do not come up with a comfortable decision soon.  ;)
An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile--hoping it will eat him last."Forgiveness is up to God. I just hope we hurry up the meeting." 02.08.03, Gen. Schwarzkoph It's the SILENT MAJORITY that COUNTS not the LOUD MINORITY that CONSTANTLY WINES! http://www.leftnuts.com/images/fu_marines1.jpg
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Re: Identity Crisis - Where am I really from??
« Reply #13 on: May 14, 2002, 11:03:31 AM »
Quote
Maybe it would help to make a list.  Write down all the pros and cons of living in the UK, then write a similar list of the pros and cons of living in New York.


Oh boy am I a list person....Glen laughs at all the lists I make.  But it works and I always get everything done.  Pros for NY outweigh the Pros for London by 11:2.....  ::)  Oh, what a shocker  :o


An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile--hoping it will eat him last."Forgiveness is up to God. I just hope we hurry up the meeting." 02.08.03, Gen. Schwarzkoph It's the SILENT MAJORITY that COUNTS not the LOUD MINORITY that CONSTANTLY WINES! http://www.leftnuts.com/images/fu_marines1.jpg
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Re: Identity Crisis - Where am I really from??
« Reply #14 on: May 14, 2002, 05:17:45 PM »
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Pros for NY outweigh the Pros for London by 11:2.....    Oh, what a shocker    


I've been waiting to post my response here, my 3 dual nationality children are pre-5 years old, I'm not yet dealing with the issues that Yvonne was initially asking about. And Kirk's response was brilliant.

I do however want to lend my two cents to the discussion as it's progressing. Hovis' suggestion is great, and I'm very analyzing about decisions as well. It took me a full year to decide to move here.

I do think that you will need to live where you and your partner can be happy together. There has to be comprimise, someone will inevitably make more sacrifice than the other. So I did make the sacrifice, gave up all and moved. I also told myself that I could not hold my partner responsible for my decision, it was my decision, and I could not be bitter about it or hold it over his head in the future. I'm not keeping score. I sometimes have to remind myself of those things.

Custody issues could be a concern someday, and yes, wherever the children have lived is their residence, and it is a big factor in custody, just as biggest_apple said.

If Glen agrees to raise the children in America as you want to, then that's great. It would make more sense to me to be established where you want to be permanently. I would leave the issue of children out of your decision of where you want to live for the time being. Forget kids for a bit, give life here a real and fair chance, and you might find more things to add to your pro's for living in the UK. If after that you're still set on raising your children in the States, then I would move before having them. And if that's what Glen still agrees to, then you've nipped those transatlantic custody issues in the bud.

Has it ever crossed your mind that maybe you're destined to live here, that things work for the best and there is some reason that you are here? Sounds kooky maybe, but sometimes I believe in silly things such as this, and sometimes I don't. There are also a lot of people who will never get the chance that you have, to explore a "foreign country", don't forget to enjoy that while you are here.


Just my two cents anyway.  :)


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