To stay or not to stay in the Netherlands: that is the question
As they move around in the world of expats, Peter Koijen and Ligia Koijen Ramos from In2motivation, an Amsterdam-based personal and professional development company, have found that there is one question which sparks a million others: Should you go back home, or stay in the Netherlands?
Lots of people who live in the Netherlands, and more specifically in Amsterdam, will not be here in five years. Some people come with a timeframe, but others come without a clear idea of how long they will stay. And it is also true that lots of people who are in a long-term relationship and live with their partner have different ideas about how long they will stay in this country.
The equation becomes complicated
Surprisingly perhaps (or perhaps not), a big part of this discussion starts when children are born into a family, and a totally new dynamic begins. Family, education, language and nationality become more pressing issues for parents than they were before.
Questions like: What language we are going to use with the kids at home? What type of education is ideal? Who will help with the schedule of work and family? These seem like they are very simple questions, but they are much more than just practical issues.
Staying or leaving should be a decision made by the whole family.
From our years of experience with internationals, we can say that the key factors when answering the aforementioned questions are as follows:
When it comes to language, making sure the child maintains a sense of belonging and connection with the country of one or both parents plays a key role. Perhaps, the parents are worried that the child will not be able to connect with their family abroad? Not being able to understand each other fully as parent and child may also play on a parent's mind.
In terms of support from the family, if this is available it can bring a great deal of security; the guarantee that the parents are not going it alone. This brings about more possibilities for relaxation and reinforces the belief that everything will be okay. This is even more significant for first-time parents, as the Dutch medical system deals with pregnancy and birth a little bit differently to other countries, even those in Europe.
With education, the key issues that arise are whether the parents will be able to help and protect the child from failures in school and whether they will be able to provide their child with the best preparation for the future.
Logic vs emotion
One of the things that we see in our groups is that a lot of these fears and doubts remain internalised. Couples tend to stick to logic and ignore reasons based on emotion and, of course, when this happens, disagreements are more likely to occur.
Searching for "real" communication
So, what is the solution to this problem? How can "real", honest communication be restored between a couple? After all, it is very difficult for someone to feel at home if they are always thinking about going back, right?
- Explore with your partner the "why'" more than the "what" or "how" regarding this change
- With an open heart, share your fears and insecurities
- Listen without judgment or looking for a fast solution from your partner
- Think together about strategies to decrease fears and insecurities. Decisions based on these two emotions can bring about lots of risks
- Create moments to check how the other person is feeling
Should you stay or should you go?
Staying or leaving should be a decision made by the whole family, where everyone is accorded the same value and can freely express their position. And if one person accepts staying (or going), that acceptance needs to be full of commitment and for the “right” reason. If not, when looking back some years later, someone will be blamed for the decision and this will cause conflict.
Peter Koijen and Ligia Koijen Ramos are life coaches and motivational speakers at In2motivation, offering personal and professional training courses to optimise individual and group motivation and performance. Follow In2motivation on Facebook to find out about future events!