As you know, I lost my job last May. Since then I’ve done a number of job-like things (consulting, contract work, social media) but ultimately none of it is a reliable source of income. Since my husband is also unemployed, I have to get serious about making some money.
One of my options is to seek a position internationally. Specifically, there are a lot of opportunities in the Middle East – Abu Dhabi, Dubai, etc. If I hadn’t lost my job I would never have considered seeking one of these jobs. It would have just been too risky, too strange, too irresponsible to rip up my family and move overseas. And although I dreamed of international work when I was in my 20’s, after having kids those dreams seemed like they weren’t reasonable any more. I was trapped by the golden handcuffs of a good job.
Now that I have to find a job, I’ve been considering expanding my horizons and considering international work. So, like any good
nerd planner, I made a list of pros and cons:
- Larger search = more jobs = better chance of getting a job.
- Pay is better.
- Opportunity to travel to Europe with the kids for vacations, expose them to other cultures, and learn other languages.
- Start with a clean slate.
- Shaking things up would instill new excitement into our family and marriage.
- Distance from family.
- Wouldn’t know anyone.
- Kids would have to make new friends.
- Kids are starting to get competitive with sports, would they be able to continue in a foreign country?
- Logistics of moving, dealing with our house and rentals.
The majority of these are items I need to weigh and judge on my own. But the effect on the kids is one I thought would be worth getting your thoughts on. One of the issues I’m hoping you’ll help me evaluate.
Friends: I think there is something to be said for knowing the same kids since Kindergarten. We have a house that we have no intention of leaving (as long as we stay in Denver). The school district is great, the neighborhood is wonderful, and our house is our dream house. Therefore, if we stay in Denver, my kids will have friends in high school that they’ve known since they were in preschool. I’m banking on this being a great foundation for making it through junior high and high school successfully – this strong network of friends. Plus I know their friends’ parents, our neighbors, and have ties to the community – pretty powerful.
Sports: My kids are all fairly athletic. My daughter is becoming a very talented soccer player and is being recruited by coaches on the top competitive teams (she’s 10). My son is naturally athletic as well and could have an impressive future in football, soccer, baseball or another sport he starts in the future (he’s 7). Again, we’ve had coaches and other parents try to recruit him to their teams. Yes, I know it’s early yet, but he just has something.
Don’t get me wrong, I have no intentions of pushing my kids to be professional athletes, or even getting sports scholarships to college. If they do, great! But, ultimately I want them involved in sports to have fun, stay fit, learn to work with a team, learn to push themselves as individuals, and to keep them occupied with positive activities. Because of their talent though, I can see sports treating them well through high school and on rec leagues as adults.
Star Quality: My daughter (the 10 year old) has an interest in acting, modeling, and singing. I’ve kind of poo-poo’d her interest – mostly because the odds are so slim and I don’t have any understanding of that life. However, she is beautiful, slim, talented musically, and could maybe take this somewhere. I enrolled her in a drama class at the Arvada Center (a local arts center) and she worked with a professional director to perform in “Gleefully” this past summer. She loved it and was good – not just she’s my kid therefore I think she’s good, but genuinely talented. Again, the odds are super slim that she’d ever make a living doing this, but if we went international it means a definite nix to this dream of hers.
Family: My husband has a large family in town. Aunts, Uncles, Cousins and Grandma are all within 20 minutes of us. No, we don’t spend every Sunday with them – but there are frequent birthday parties, weddings, and other celebrations where my kids get to play with their same-aged cousins. Plus Grandma.
I think if we decide to go overseas, we’d invite Grandma to come with us, but I don’t know that she’d want to come. Basically if we move, our interaction with family will definitely be more limited than it is currently.
I think the pros of raising a family overseas are pretty self evident.
Culture: My kids would be exposed to other cultures – intimately, not just 2 weeks a year. Vacations and long weekends to a new European country would be as easy as taking a road trip to the Grand Canyon – shorter commute even! They’d come to understand that the American way is not the only way or even the best way. They’d learn to be tolerant and have empathy for diversity and different cultures. This exposure could potentially mold the way they view the world forever.
Language: Being not only exposed, but immersed, in other languages in their childhood would make picking up a second, or even third, language very easy for my kids. There are myriad benefits for them to be fluent in Arabic as adults. The jobs and diplomatic opportunities that would open for them? Priceless.
Maturity/Confidence: I have met people that have lived and died having never been more than 30 miles from the place they were born. My kids would never be afraid of traveling, of taking off for places unknown, of having grand adventures. Well, maybe that’s too much of a sweeping statement. But, I’m pretty confident that living overseas would certainly put them much further down the path of being unafraid than they’d be if we stay stateside.
So, what’s the answer? Which would be best for the kids?
I have to admit that I haven’t been swayed either direction. I’m stuck smack dab on the fence with neither American or International being clearly better than the other.
What do you think? Any points I haven’t thought of yet? Reasons why American or International is the clear winner?