All American or International ~ Which is Best for Kids?

All American or International ~ Which is Best for Kids?

american flagAs 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.

All American

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.

International Upbringing

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?


7 Responses to All American or International ~ Which is Best for Kids?

  1. Oh, how exciting! I kind of envy you having those possibilities.

    But decision making is hard and the stakes for your family are high. I don’t think there is a clear winner.

    But I’ll say this. We lived overseas as a couple (before kids) and it was an AMAZING experience. We met lots of families whose kids thrived with the expat lifestyle. We have considered “going back out” before our kids get too old.

    However, our stays would be limited to a 2 or 3 year contract. So moving for an undefined time is something that does affect family, sports, other things even more.

    I wish I had a clear answer for you, but it sounds like you really can’t go wrong when you’re choosing between two good things.

  2. What an exciting opportunity for you and your family! Your kids are the right age for that kind of adventure – old enough to fully enjoy it but not yet into those (sometimes) resentful teenage year. Good luck with it, whatever you decide. :)

  3. Thought-provoking? Gah. I’m all nervous just reading. Nervous doesn’t always mean bad. I presume you’ve talked as a family about this possibility? If not, I’d start there. If you signed a two year contract, you could keep your home here, rent it out, and see another part of the world. Many of us, your friends, will likely be right here when you return.

    Six years ago, we packed up and moved from Ohio to Colorado. Not overseas, but often it feels like it. But we have made amazing friends (um, you) and it has been a great experience. Don’t ask my parents the same question (only child with all their grandchildren) a two day drive away.

    Follow your instincts. We’ll support you!

  4. How exciting! We’ve always been open to living overseas. As of yet, we haven’t, but that’s just because the right opportunity hasn’t come along.

    Our situation is different in that we don’t live near relatives anyway. Yes, we’re established here, and we’d miss our friends, but things were a blank slate when we moved here in the first place!

    The challenge of meeting new friends and establishing routines has always been exciting for me, so I’d welcome it.

    With how online-based our interactions are anyway, the con list would be pretty short in our case.

    We’ve already traveled internationally with our daughter, and we plan to do a lot more of that, even if we never move to an international locale. There is a priceless knowledge that is gained from traveling overseas, and it’s really important for our daughter to have that.

    Good luck in your decisions!!

  5. Personally I don’t know which way I would go if the opportunity presented itself. I would have the same questions that you do.
    I have a friend doing just this but in Europe. They have stayed longer than they said they would. The original plan was to come back before oldest started high school but oldest is now soph I think & youngest 8th grade. They do have a long vacation in the summer and come back every July or Aug for several weeks and visit friends/family all over the US and the kids even attend a week of camp here. If you would like to connect to hear her pros & cons, I am sure she would be happy to.

  6. I agree that living and working in a foreign country would be exciting. The kids would remember it for the rest of their lives. The learning opportunity would be fantastic for them. If it doesn’t work out you can always come back home to Denver. There are new friends to be made all over the world and they play soccer,too! Nothing ventured nothing gained…………..

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