In a recent World magazine article (subscription required) and column in the Indianapolis Star, Russell Pulliam discusses the background of the two presidential candidates as third culture kids. Obama’s multi-cultural family background and his time as a boy in Indonesia are fairly well-known now. McCain was born into a military family in the Canal Zone and spent his childhood growing up in the Pacific.
In the World magazine article, Pulliam discusses a book about third culture kids by Ruth Van Reken. “Third culture kids, she writes, often have stronger relationships with adults. They can be perceived as arrogant . . . The world usually looks different to them because of their multicultural experiences. Many third culture kids develop a sense of a both/and identity rather than the traditional either/or identity common to those growing up in one culture.”
These characteristics are nothing new to parents of third culture kids. I had to smile when I read about them being arrogant. I recall Anna one morning getting dressed up for church or some other event. She had on a nice dress and her oft-tangled hair was brushed and neat. A friend of ours walked over to Anna and said to her, “Anna, you look very cute today.” Anna smiled sweetly back and said, “Yes, I know.”