When relocating, build a ‘RAFT’ with your family

The RAFT mnemonic has been used by expat families for decades as a way to ‘stay afloat’ during a major transition.

Everyone’s a winner

Whether you’re moving home or moving on, get ready to build a RAFT, which stands for Reconciliation, Affirmation, Farewell and Think destination. Devised by Dave Pollock and Ruth Van Reken, the authors of the seminal text Third Culture Kids: Growing Up Among Worlds, this mnemonic will benefit your whole family as you undergo a transitional phase that often leads to many mixed emotions.

Make your peace

The ‘R’ on the first log represents reconciliation. Recognising and acknowledging any disruptions, feelings of uncertainty, fears, turmoil or sense of loss can help you move forward. Don’t pack your grievances and grudges (should you have any). With your family, friends or a coach / consultant, air your emotions and make your peace.

A for affirmation

With RAFT, we are also urged to acknowledge who we have let into our lives and let them know how much they meant to us. Your kids might have made very meaningful connections with their nanny and teachers. You might have formed a wonderful relationship with a barista! Whomever it is that made an impact on your life, take the time to show your appreciation before moving on.

Honour the farewell

So many global families today are getting used to big moves. As a result they’re a pretty resilient and ultra mobile bunch. But… never skip the goodbyes. It’s important to acknowledge this chapter of your life is concluding before you turn the page. Throw a party or visit friends’ houses. Go to your favourite restaurants and recreation spots. Take photos and make videos. Plant the seed of a tree in the garden or park and chat about who might sit under its shade in years to come.

Think… ‘destination’

With your family, take the time to chat about what’s next. This can be a way of generating excitement but you will also want to manage expectations and discuss some of the challenges that you will all confront. Give your kids a chance to voice their concerns. Remember a little bit of research can be very reassuring. Explore the destination online using Google. Network with families who live there (or have previously lived there). Make a list of 10 fun things you’ll do when you get to abandon ‘the raft’ and run ashore!

This article was originally published for the thousands of expat partners that Global Connection supports around the globe. It is reproduced here in its original form.

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