Independent Living

Life Skills & Independence

How to live a full life is something we may not often think about, if at all. Reaching our full potential as human beings is one thing, but just getting along happily in life is another. Throughout our school life we develop skills that will help us cope for the rest of our lives; we develop new skills after finishing our formal education, and often it is subconscious. A skill is a learned ability, so we can actively develop skills that will help us through life with a certain level of effort. The goals are to, (1) know and understand yourself better, (2) live life more consciously and deliberately, and (3) attain personal satisfaction and fulfillment.

The United Nations & Essential Life Skills

"There is no definitive list of life skills. The list below includes the psychosocial and interpersonal skills generally considered important. The choice of, and emphasis on, different skills will vary according to the topic and local conditions (e.g., decision-making may feature strongly in HIV/AIDS prevention whereas conflict management may be more prominent in a peace education program). Though the list suggests these categories are distinct from each other, many skills are used simultaneously in practice. For example, decision-making often involves critical thinking ("what are my options?") and values clarification ("what is important to me?"). Ultimately, the interplay between the skills is what produces powerful behavioural outcomes, especially where this approach is supported by other strategies such as media, policies and health services." Source

The following organized lists of skills are what the UN deems essential for productive and successful life as an adult.
1. Communication and Interpersonal Skills
Interpersonal Communication Skills
Verbal/Nonverbal communication
■Active listening
■Expressing feelings; giving feedback (without blaming) and receiving feedback

Negotiation/Refusal Skills
■Negotiation and conflict management
■Assertiveness skills
■Refusal skills

■Ability to listen and understand another's needs and circumstances and express that understanding

Cooperation and Teamwork
■Expressing respect for others' contributions and different styles
■Assessing one's own abilities and contributing to the group

Advocacy Skills
■Influencing skills & persuasion
■Networking and motivation skills
2. Coping and Self-Management Skills
Skills for Increasing Internal Locus of Control
■Self esteem/confidence building skills
■Self awareness skills including awareness of rights, influences, values, attitudes, rights, strengths and weaknesses
■Goal setting skills
■Self evaluation / Self assessment / Self-monitoring skills

Skills for Managing Feelings
■Anger management
■Dealing with grief and anxiety
■Coping skills for dealing with loss, abuse, trauma

Skills for Managing Stress
■Time management
■Positive thinking
■Relaxation techniques

3. Decision-Making and Critical Thinking Skills
Decision making / Problem Solving Skills
■Information gathering skills
■Evaluating future consequences of present actions for self and others
■Determining alternative solutions to problems
■Analysis skills regarding the influence of values and attitudes of self and others on motivation

Critical Thinking Skills
■Analyzing peer and media influences
■Analyzing attitudes, values, social norms and beliefs and factors affecting these
■Identifying relevant information and information sources

Independence - Are we truly 'independent?'

Independence is an interestng topic. Other ideas come to mind, sych as interdependence. As young adults move out of their home they do indeed become far more independent of their parents, but often there is still a certian dependency that exists (whether it is financial or emotional). The following 2002 study called "Young People's Changing Routes to Independence", conducted in the United Kingdom, has some interesting findings. Though the statements do not ring true for everone, they may reflect the reality for many young adults. (paraphrased)

-in the last 15 years early school-leavers can find jobs that are relatively low in pay and permanence (and have shifted from apprenticeships and secreterial/ clerical work to hospitality, catering and caring)

-young people are making more money than the generation before they are relatively worse off in economic stability

-the gap in employment opportunities between those who have good educational qualifications and those without is widening

-marriage and parenthood are being postponed; those marrying and giving birth young are from poorer backgrounds and have lower educational qualifications

-the socio-economic background of family is a huge factor to the future stable employment and independent living, though earning educational qualifications also appears to be growing in importance

-high level qualifications lead to improved earnings, but not as much as before

-psychologival health of young people, especially women, has declined (relatively); periods of unemployment and insufficient qualifications are associated with depression

Third Culture Kids

You as an Adult Third Culture Kids (ATCKs)

Some information on the transitions ATCKs may have in store for them. Remember, everyone is an individual and you'll view these things in your own personal way.

Third Culture Kids
“A third culture kid is a person who has spent a significant part of his or her developmental years outside their parents’ culture. The third culture kid builds relationships to all the cultures, while not having full ownership in any. Although elements from each culture are assimilated into the third culture kid’s life experience, the sense of belonging is in relationship to others of the same background, other TCKs.”

Cross-Cultural Kids
"A Cross-Cultural Kid (CCK) is a person who has lived in—or meaningfully interacted with—two or more cultural environments for a significant period of time during developmental years.” - CCK definition and subgroups by Ruth E. Van Reken, co-author Third Culture Kids: The Experience of Growing Up Among Worlds.

This group includes: 
        -Traditional Third Culture Kids - Children who move into another culture with parents due to a parent’s career choice
        -Bi/multi-cultural/ and/or bi/multi-racial children - Children born to parents from at least two cultures or races
        -Children of immigrants - Children whose parents have made a permanent move to a new country where they were not originally citizens
        -Children of refugees - Children whose parents are living outside their original country or place due to un-chosen circumstances such as 
        war,violence, famine, other natural disasters
        -Children of minorities - Children whose parents are from a racial or ethnic group which is not part of the majority race or ethnicity of the country 
        in which they live.
        -International adoptees - Children adopted by parents from another country other than the one of that child’s birth
        -“Domestic” TCKs - Children whose parents have moved in or among various subcultures within that child’s home country.
        -Business kids
        -Missionary kids
        -Military kids

Special note: Children are often in more than one of these circles at the same time. (e.g. A traditional TCK who is also from a minority group; a child of immigrants whose parents are from two different cultures, etc.) This helps us understand the growing complexity of the issues we face in our changing world.

Who is a global nomad? A global nomad is an individual who, spending a significant part of their developmental years in another culture, develops some sense of belonging to both the host culture and the home culture, while not having a sense of total ownership in either. Elements from both (or multiple) cultures are blended, resulting in the third culture.

Some Statistics on American TCKs

What are the characteristics of a Third Culture Kid? There are different characteristics that impact the typical TCK:

TCKs are 4 times as likely as non-TCKs to earn a bachelor's degree (81% vs 21%)

40% earn an advanced degree (as compared to 5% of the non-TCK population.)

45% of TCKs attended 3 universities before earning a degree.

44% earned undergraduate degree after the age of 22.

Educators, medicine, professional positions, and self employment are the most common professions for TCKs.

TCKs are unlikely to work for big business, government, or follow their parents' career choices. "One won't find many TCKs in large corporations. Nor are there many in government ... they have not followed in parental footsteps".

90% feel "out of sync" with their peers.

90% report feeling as if they understand other cultures/peoples better than the average American.

80% believe they can get along with anybody.

Divorce rates among TCKs are lower than the general population, but they marry older (25+).

Military brats, however, tend to marry earlier.

Linguistically adept (not as true for military ATCKs.)

A study whose subjects were all "career military brats"—those who had a parent in the military from birth through high school—shows that brats are linguistically adept.

Teenage TCKs are more mature than non-TCKs, but ironically take longer to "grow up" in their 20s.

More welcoming of others into their community.

Lack a sense of "where home is" but often nationalistic.

Some studies show a desire to "settle down" others a "restlessness to move".

Depression and suicide are more prominent among TCK's. 


And now a little humour...

You know you’re a TCK when ...

- “Where are you from?” has more than one reasonable answer.

- You’ve said that you’re from foreign country X, and (if you live in America) your audience has asked you which US state X is in.

- You flew before you could walk.

- You speak two languages, but can’t spell in either.

- You feel odd being in the ethnic majority.

- You have three passports.

- You have a passport but no driver’s license.

- You go into culture shock upon returning to your “home” country.

- Your life story uses the phrase “Then we moved to…” three (or four, or five…) times.

- You wince when people mispronounce foreign words.

- You don’t know whether to write the date as day/month/year, month/day/year, or some variation thereof.

- The best word for something is the word you learned first, regardless of the language.

- You get confused because US money isn’t colour-coded.

- You think VISA is a document that’s stamped in your passport, not a plastic card you carry in your wallet.

- You own personal appliances with 3 types of plugs, know the difference between 110 and 220 volts, 50 and 60 cycle current, and realize that a trasnsformer isn’t always enough to make your appliances work.

- You fried a number of appliances during the learning process.

- You think the Pledge of Allegiance might possibly begin with “Four-score and seven years ago….”

- Half of your phone calls are unintelligible to those around you.

- You believe vehemently that football is played with a round, spotted ball.

- You consider a city 500 miles away “very close.”

- You get homesick reading National Geographic.

- You cruise the Internet looking for fonts that can support foreign alphabets.

- You think in the metric system and Celsius.

- You may have learned to think in feet and miles as well, after a few years of living (and driving) in the US. (But not Fahrenheit. You will *never* learn to think in Fahrenheit).

- You haggle with the checkout clerk for a lower price.

- Your minor is a foreign language you already speak.

- When asked a question in a certain language, you’ve absentmindedly respond in a different one.

- You miss the subtitles when you see the latest movie.

- You’ve gotten out of school because of monsoons, bomb threats, and/or popular demonstrations.

- You speak with authority on the subject of airline travel.

- You have frequent flyer accounts on multiple airlines.

- You constantly want to use said frequent flyer accounts to travel to new places.

- You know how to pack.

- You have the urge to move to a new country every couple of years.

- The thought of sending your (hypothetical) kids to public school scares you, while the thought of letting them fly alone doesn’t at all.

- You think that high school reunions are all but impossible.

- You have friends from 29 different countries.

- You sort your friends by continent.

- You have a time zone map next to your telephone.

- You realize what a small world it is, after all.