CCK - Cross Culture Kids

Who are Cross Culture Kids?

The term Cross Culture Kids or CCK for short, was conceived by prominent TCK-lecturer and co-author of The New York Times Bestseller, Third Culture Kids: Growing Up Among Worlds, Ruth Van Reken, with the specific purpose of including all forms of cross cultural living. Whereas the term Third Culture Kids refers specifically to persons who have grown up in a country different to that of their birth parents, the term Cross Culture Kids refers to a much broader spectrum.

Ruth Van Reken defines the term in the following way.

A cross-culture kid (CCK) is a person who is living/has lived in – or meaningfully interacted with – two or more cultural environments for a significant period of time during the first eighteen years of life. (2017, p 43)

The term alludes to a much longer list of possible candidates. Not only do traditional Third Culture Kids fit into the criteria of Cross Culture Kids, but so do mixed-race and multicultural kids, children attending schools with a different cultural base than their home, international adoptees, children of minorities, refugees, immigrants and so on.

Whereas Third Culture Kids are defined by the fact that they have grown up in a different country to that of their birth, location is not a defining factor in what constitutes a Cross Culture Kid. Cross Culture Kids are determined by the presence of multiple cultures in their daily life. A meaningful participation in these cultures is also a defining criteria of the Cross Culture Kid.


Pollock, D., 2009. Third Culture Kids, Revised Edition: The Experience of Growing Up Among Worlds. Brealey, Nicholas Publishing.

Book a Therapy Session

Cross Culture Therapy offers online therapy sessions to Third Culture Kids, Adult Third Culture Kids and Cross Culture Kids. Each session lasts 50 minutes and is conducted via Skype. Sessions can be purchased in packs of 1, 5, and 10. The 10 session pack is also available to family members.

Problems Facing Cross Culture Kids

A common problem for Cross Culture Kids is dealing with the loss of a culture. This can occur in several different ways. One example could be that of a Nigerian girl living in Hong Kong and attending a British school. In this scenario, the person is interacting with three distinct cultures on a daily basis.

But what happens when she graduates from school and perhaps has to leave her residing culture because of a lack of job opportunities or to further her education?

Suddenly, the girl can find herself living in a completely different country (more often than not Third Culture Kids apply to universities with the same cultural base as their previous place of education) or she can move to back to her birth culture. This experience makes it hard for the individual to assimilate to her new environment.

Not only is there a tendency to look back nostalgically at the cultures that one has lost, but there is also a tendency to actively repel the new culture in our life because it is seen as a threat to the memory of the old cultures.

Who are Adult Cross Culture Kids?

Adult Cross Culture Kids are simply adults who have grown up in a cross cultural environment as children. During their formative years they would have had a daily involvement with a multitude of cultures. This involvement could be in the form of attending class that was conducted within a different school system to ones passport culture or living in a gated community such as an army base.

Not unlike Third Culture Kids, the question of what constitutes a Cross Culture Kid is not dependant on time but rather age. If the cross cultural experience occurs during a time when the person’s sense of self is not properly developed, there will be detrimental to the sense of identity, awareness and the self-esteem of that individual as an adult.

Free Email Consultation

Do you have any questions you want to ask our therapist / life coaches pertaining to the Third Culture Kid lifestyle? Are you a parent raising children in a different country? Are you about to become an expat for the first time? Or are you an Adult Third Culture Kid who needs advice on how to create stability and find meaning in life? Try our Free Email Consultation service.

How Can We Help Cross Culture Kids?

Cross Culture Therapy provides therapy sessions to Third Culture Kids, Cross Culture Kids and Adult Third Culture Kids. Sessions are conducted via Skype and last 50-minutes.

The content of each session is based on three therapeutic practices, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy as well as Mindfulness. For more detail concerning our session plans, click here.

Our therapy sessions can be purchased in packs of one, five and ten, with the last pack being open to family member as well. To purchase one of our session packs, click here.

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