Written by: Judit Végh, Executive Contributor
Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.
Families provide a sense of belonging and a connection to our past. However, in our increasingly globalised world, families are often spread across countries, and family members may find themselves living in vastly different environments. This article explores how families navigate these changes and differences, embrace diverse seasons, and create bonds that transcend the constraints of time.
1. Connections through seasons
The changing of seasons is a dynamic force that shapes our lives and establishes a natural rhythm. In some parts of the world, autumn currently paints a canvas of red, orange, and yellow leaves, while elsewhere, the long, frosty winter prepares to give way to the rebirth of spring. Each season has its unique charm, celebrated in various ways. However, in some regions, the lack of distinct seasons results in a different experience of natural changes and requires different adaptation patterns to nature.
I recently spoke with friends who have been living in a place where summer is everlasting. While they appreciate the predictable weather, reviewing past photos revealed a challenge in pinpointing the timing of events, as the eternal summer blurred time's boundaries. In contrast, in regions with distinct seasons, it serves as an unwavering guide, offering a rhythm and dynamic to human life. To those who never lived in one or the other, either the continuous changes or the constancy of the weather could create challenges in adaptation. Those who never experienced the ice on the road would not be able to identify it first, while the never-ending summer could never substitute the four seasons’ rhythm for those who grew up with it. It not only changes by season but also depending on whether you live in the Northern or Southern Hemisphere; your experience will not be aligned with others.
As I write this article in an autumnal setting after years of endless summers, I finally live in seasons again in the Northern Hemisphere. This is my well-known childhood prompt, and now it will be known by my son as well. It's natural for a human being that with autumn, our hearts lean inward a little as we take in the magnificent spectrum of autumn colours. We begin thinking about preparations for the holiday season. But this is only one pattern. Festive seasons, together with their seasonal environment, vary from one culture to another. Some parts of the world just finished celebrating Diwali, the Festival of Lights, with grand festivities. Others just started the early preparation for Christmas.
Imprint of celebrations
Childhood memories shape our cultural identity and continue to influence us in adulthood. Whether it's Christmas on the beach, sun-soaked days, and family barbecues or traditional dishes around a warm and cosy dining room, these recollections become the foundation of our holiday celebrations and shape our adult holiday images. We can still celebrate them differently, but there will be a strong memory print deep inside us.
Cultural traditions are more than just habits; they're expressions of our values and beliefs. The memories of these customs become part of our identity. However, not only them but also the environmental circumstances will be part of that. We will remember exactly whether we spent the festive days under the sun or curled up in a warm room on the sofa in front of the fireplace. We will remember if the festive included travelling, day outs on the beach, or skiing in the mountains. We will remember if we celebrated in the garden with our extended family, in a different country exploring a new place, or in a comfortable house with a big family looking out to the frosty nature.
Connecting with childhood memories
These memories we hold could be there unconsciously; we don’t even give importance to them most of the time. However, as we raise our own families in diverse environments, the question arises: Will our children experience the same cultural and seasonal patterns? Will they share the memories of falling chestnuts in the autumn or the taste of coconuts from towering palm trees? Will they remember building snowmen in the winter or splashing in the warm waves of the ocean in the summer during Christmas time?
We can strive to make our children conscious of their childhood patterns, helping them understand where they come from and why certain traditions are essential. However, besides our cultural heritage and cultural patterns, we can also explain the environmental circumstances, the seasons, or one season we experienced when we were a child. Even more, we can try to create a bridge in between so that they not only will understand better their experience but will understand better us, parents.
To create this bridge, introducing new experiences, whether through travel or technological means, helps them understand their cultural and family heritage, appreciate the world's diversity, and enrich their lives.
Bridging seasons as a global family: How do we do it effectively?
To create this bridge, we can bring in some new experiences for them. If they grow up in places with eternal summer, we can plan trips back to our home countries during different seasons to give them a taste of the variety that the world offers. Conversely, if we're in places where the seasons change, we can bring a piece of the constant warmth and sunshine to them, recreating the experiences we cherished in our own childhood. These experiential lessons help them appreciate the diversity of the world and the various traditions that enrich their lives. However, it's not always possible to physically experience these changes. In such cases, we can turn to technology as a bridge to our past. We can share stories and memories with our children, showing them the places where we grew up and how the climate shaped our lives. We can talk about the beauty of the seasons and the significance of cultural traditions.
2. Connections through time zones
Technology as the family bridge
In today's interconnected world, technology plays a crucial role in maintaining family bonds. It allows us to connect with family members living in different parts of the world and share experiences. With video calls, we can virtually be in the same room, celebrating special moments and connecting across time zones. Social media and messaging apps make it easy to exchange stories, photos, and videos, giving family members a glimpse into each other's lives. The digital realm not only bridges geographical distances but also fosters a sense of togetherness, helping family members stay connected, share their daily experiences, and provide support when needed.
Across time zones: Synchronising rhythms
Being virtually together with our families gives us the feeling of a sense of belonging and connection. Living in different time zones, however, even when virtually together, brings challenges in synchronising daily rhythms. When communicating with family members in varying time zones, it's essential to consider their daily routines and energy levels. Starting the day is different from winding it down. Understanding and respecting each other's time constraints are essential for effective communication and connection.
Bridging time zones as a global family: How do we do it effectively?
Try connecting with family members at different times of the day to experience their daily rhythms and gain a deeper understanding of their lives. The best would be to vary these times so we can sneak into different life moments and energy levels of the others. By sharing experiences and stories, we create stronger bonds that transcend the limitations of time and distance.
Creating a shared family calendar that takes into account different time zones can help family members plan virtual gatherings, celebrations, and catch-up sessions. These scheduled interactions create a sense of anticipation and connection as family members look forward to their regular online meetings. Connecting at different times of the day and creating a shared family calendar that accommodates various time zones are essential for fostering understanding and strengthening bonds.
3. Building stronger family bonds and understanding
In summary, our family traditions and childhood memories are a vital part of who we are. They are a source of connection, identity, and cultural richness. However, it's also crucial to remember how nature, natural rhythm, and our surroundings have influenced our lives. By sharing our experiences with our children, we help them understand where they come from and why certain traditions matter.
Fostering these connections isn't just about the past; it's also about the present and the future. As our families continue to evolve in diverse environments, our experiences become part of the global narrative. Through technology and communication, by consciously paying attention to the daily life rhythm as well, we can create stronger family bonds that bridge the gaps in time and space.
In the end, the beauty of family life lies in its ability to adapt and grow while remaining rooted in the values and traditions that define us. As we continue to embrace the diversity of family life in a global context, we find strength in the connections we build and the stories we share.
Judit Végh, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine
Intercultural Psychologist & Global Family Consultant Judit Végh, Founder of Intercultural Life, is a recognized expert in Intercultural Psychology. With a focus on global family life, acculturation, relationship dynamics, change management, and career planning in global family settings, Judit brings over a decade of knowledge and expertise to her work. Her personal experiences have driven her passion for supporting transnational families and providing exceptional support to her clients.
Judit's experience also includes a decade in HR and ongoing work as a career education consultant for an edtech startup. This diverse background has given her a unique perspective on global family life and a deep understanding of the challenges faced by transnational families.
She is also a PhD candidate in Psychology, having conducted extensive research on global family life published in high-ranking journals such as Thunder Business Review and Journal of Global Mobility. Judit is co-founder and board member of SIETAR Southeast Asia, a society for intercultural education, training, and research, and a member of several international professional organisations, including the Asian Association of Social Psychology, International Association for Cross-Cultural Psychology, Hungarian Psychological Association, Mobile Professionals and Families, Families in Global Transition, and World Council on Intercultural and Global Competence. Her expertise and dedication to her work have made her a regular presenter at scientific conferences.