In a somewhat strange (and somewhat clichéd) analogy, relocation is like giving birth, knowing how to enter but not really how to leave … Twenty years ago and seven transitions we also said to ourselves, “We will take two years abroad and return to Israel”, but somewhere between the second and third relocation We realized that this is a pattern and what is considered at the beginning as a temporary adventure is gradually becoming fixed, so what to do when the relocation becomes a lifestyle?
Long-term relocation is the one that goes beyond the two-year range – three. Sometimes it involves a long stay in one country and sometimes more or less frequent transitions between different countries. A rule of thumb for us has always been the need to plan and not drag in the wake of life. This rule seems to be especially true in an ongoing relocation situation – a life situation where nothing is self-evident and the family trajectory is a new and unfamiliar route. We all know the elementary track, division, high school, military, university, work and then pensions. Ongoing relocation interrupts and alters the trajectory for each member of the household and necessitates contemplation and choice in a new life trajectory. So if you are planning a relocation or are already in the process, you should remember that there are some decision nodes and points of view along the way that are worth the special delay:
Remember to celebrate the relocation
Relocation is first and foremost an experience. An opportunity to strengthen the family bond, to understand new cultures, to collect experiences and personal growth. During the relocation you should avoid being pumped into a gray routine. Remember that you’re a guest, look for the little surprises the country you live in prepares for you. Take advantage of vacations and weekends to discover the different world you live in.
Take advantage of the relocation for personal and professional growth
Life within a culture is different from time immemorial learning. Through contact with colleagues in the ministry, try to understand the cultural perception that leads them. Even if you are not working, daily sessions are utilized to talk about the uniqueness of the different culture, to adopt local customs and to develop thought flexibility and cross-cultural experience. This is the place to touch on a couple’s concern about stepping in and missing out on employment opportunities as part of the ongoing relocation. Recognition of daily life in the other culture as an opportunity for tool collection, skills accumulation and personal growth will make years of relocation years of growth and enrichment. These will eventually become an advantage in the intercontinental labor market.
Share family with decision-making along the way
In the unique relocation life path, each node becomes meaningful to each member of the household. Sharing the children at decision nodes is important, but of course depends on their age. At an early age, decision-making can focus on the small jugs of the transition – the color of the furniture in the new room and the choice of rooms in the home, but with the rise in age, a real reflection on the relocation or the next adventure can be gradually brought to the discussion table. The sense of sharing in decision making will help avoid feeling victimized and help everyone feel an active part of the shared experience.
Flood and face identity questions
Here, too, with the deviation from the familiar path, a clear definition of family identity is required. This is especially evident for children growing up in an international environment without an educational setting that will define their nationality, language and religion. In order to help our children, we parents need a real confrontation with our personal identity question – what national identity would we like to impart to our children? What does it include? Is it important to us to maintain the Hebrew language? What religious traditions would we like to pass on? And what about the IDF service? Keeping in touch with the local Israeli community will answer some of the need for identity formation. Jewish schools are also contributing. And to continue relocation abroad.
Don’t be afraid to deal with what if …
Long-term relocation represents a real change in the location of the family life center. For each member of the household, the target country becomes a social, educational and professional base. While in the short term it is clear to many of us that in times of trouble we would like to return home immediately – to the country, it is important to consider whether coping with this type is also true in the new lifestyle we have embraced. Thus, to the extent that it is important for us to cope with unexpected illnesses and events in our home abroad it is important to make sure that we have surrounded ourselves with an economic, insurance and social network that will enable this kind of coping.
And another final thing that is important to say – despite all the above, not everything in life can be planned. The long-term relocation is sometimes sustained as a result of unplanned elongation or a surprising series of short relocations. By the same token, even when everything is planned, life’s surprises and clear plans are often invented, too. Still, raising questions about awareness, deliberating all members of the family together, and making informed decisions, even if desired and desired, will create a sense of progress toward a common goal for all partners.