Traditions and Mindsets Passed Down

A family looking out in the distance

A child of immigrants, a Military B.R.A.T. and a child of a Third Culture Kid (TCK) discuss the traditions and mindsets that have been passed down within their cross-cultural families. (Note: All names have been changed at the request of the interviewees.)


With parents who emigrated to the U.S.A. from India, Abigail knows she grew up non-traditionally Hindu.

I know we practice our cultural traditions in a similar way that my family in India do. The difference is in our mindsets, which really relates to where everyone lives.

Abigail says she and her parents and siblings take traditional trips back to visit their family in India. This is where she notices the biggest diffences between her two cultural communities.

Immigration (Image via Pixabay)
Image by Ralph from Pixabay

The community in India idolizes her parents for chasing their dreams within the United States. However, colorism is put on the forefront of Abigail’s mind, as comments about how light her skin is seem to be prominent.

In the United States though, her community focuses more on inclusivity rather than the segregation of skin tone.

To conclude, Abigail says both communities are more culturally flexible thanks to her parents’ immigration.


Mira grew up moving from place to place across the U.S. and often dealt with her dad’s sporadic deployments. She herself is a domestic TCK and with this cross-cultural identity comes specific traditions and mindsets.

One tradition we had growing up revolves around the days my dad left for deployment. My sister and I each got a day alone to spend with him before he left. When the day of deployment came, my mom, sister and I would spend the next 48 hours relaxing, watching movies, cuddling and crying together to heal.

However, the subconscious push to join the military has been a present influence on Mira’s mindset as she became an adult. She feels she needs to work twice as hard as other college students in order to justify her educational degree to her parents. That said, she does point out that her parents never really had the desire for her to join the military.

Military family (Image via Pixabay)
Image by Foundry Co from Pixabay

Mira has developed a mindset that “change is a constant of life,” and that family will always be there regardless of what seemed like endless rotations of new friends and new schools. She mentions how damaging this was while trying to make friends, as she didn’t see the point of creating lasting relationships with others if she was leaving in the near future.

I still have a lot of anxiety about change and I definitely don’t like change, but at the same time, I am so used to it that it almost feels natural.

To conclude, Mira states that growing up in a military family gave her the opportunity to learn independence. She was able to develop strong family morals and become empathetic toward others who also constantly worry about family safety.


Lily grew up with an Adult TCK mother and often feels that she inherited her mother’s cross-cultural mindsets. She grew up normalizing her mom’s almost non-existent relationship with her own siblings. Because of this, Lily now has trouble holding long-distance connections with friends and family.

Passport (Image via Pixabay)
Image by Karl Allen Lugmayer from Pixabay

Into adulthood, I began noticing that my axiety was coming from this feeling of loneliness and self-exclusion. I think this comes from my mom and her ability to completely close doors on previous life chapters. I seem to do the same thing, and then create my own independent world to live in.

One tradition Lily mentions that she will hold onto forever came from her mother’s childhood. Spending countless Christmases in various countries, the one constant her mother has for this holiday is receiving a tin can of olives in her stocking each year. Passing through generations now, Lily and her siblings and even the kids of her siblings hold onto this tradition.

A tin can of olives may seem silly to others, but it’s a symbol of my childhood, when I still saw my family every day. It’s a symbol of connection to past chapters in my life, one of the only continuous connections I have left.


These traditions and mindsets inherited by cross-cultural parents seem to be contextual to each individual. However, it’s hard to argue against the notion that children mimic those mindsets.

Into adulthood, these kids often act like their traditional cross-cultural parents; this is because they normalized it in childhood.

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