BOOK REVIEW: Families on the move

Personal and practical

Families on the move provides a quick-reference survival guide in raising children overseas and ‘loving it!’ according to the author. Marion Knell begins by introducing the topic of Third Culture Kids (TCKs) – children who grow up in a different culture than their parents’ or their passport’s culture.

She makes good use of direct quotes and anecdotes to help the reader understand the distinct issues children face. This is a pattern which continues throughout the work, along with cartoons, diagrams and even the occasional poem. Knell’s warm, humorous and yet thoroughly practical tone makes the book easy to read, but the seriousness of the topic and the difficulty of the task of raising children is never underestimated.

‘For TCKs home is always “elsewhere”. They can fit in anywhere, but belong nowhere.’

Full of anecdotes and applications

The highly practical nature of the book is reinforced by the questions posed throughout for the reader to consider. These help the reader to apply some of the advice shared in this resource in their personal context. Areas include: how to say goodbye properly, the pros and cons of various forms of education, building strong families and re-entering a ‘home’ culture. The suggestions are pragmatic, but again often made gently and with good humour.

Although much of the book would apply just as well to a secular family working overseas, the final section deals specifically with the challenges of cross-cultural Christian vocations. This is where the author addresses spiritual concerns more fully, as well as some of the quirks of the life of a family serving in mission

A platform for further study

The book ends with an open letter from a group of TCKs, which reinforces the central theme: being a TCK can be difficult, but with the right approach there can be huge advantages.

The book is also evidently well-researched and contains a useful appendix for further reading including the significant A Summary of Normal Human Development by Dr Marjory F. Foyle.

“Simulating a bumpy bus ride on an unmade-up road in the dining room can cause uproar in the average suburban home but it’s a lot of fun!”


Full title: Families on the move: Growing up overseas and loving it!
Author: Marion Knell
Publishers: Monarch Books UK & USA, 2001, ISBN 1-85424-523-6 (UK)

Chapters include: Third Culture Kids, Building a Firm Foundation, Transition – Making Moves, Building Bridges, Educational Options, Living in a Non-Western Culture, Re-entry, Overseas on Vocation

AWM recommends

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