Would you want to be the child of a diplomat?

HeatherFife's picture
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So this last weekend I met three youngsters, as my dad would call them, two 13 year olds and one 11 year old. All three were spending their summer in Beijing living with a Chinese family and studying Chinese. They were American and they lived in Singapore. They went to an American school there and their parents were diplomats. One of the youngsters' parent used to be the ambassador to Honk Kong. They were very smart. Very mature. Two of them were already learning their third language. One of them had an older sister who spoke four languages at the age of 22-French, Mandarin Chinese, English, and Arabic. They were nice and cool and polite and I was extremely jealous.

Why weren't my parents diplomats who spent thousands of dollars for me to spend my summer mastering difficult languages before I hit puberty? Why didn't my parents raise me in varous South East Asian countries where I could learn to list my favorite steamed bun or curry dish at the age of 11? Why didn't my parents teach me how to disuss the delicate politics of the Taiwan/China issue before I ever had my first kiss? I felt like I was really behind and like there was no way I could catch up or compete with children raised in these kinds of environements. I took a look at myself and instead of seeing the girl raised in a middle class house in the suburbs with loving parents who taught me respectful values, I felt like a minority kid from the ghetto who never knew her dad and did drugs at the age of seven for the first time compared to these kids.

I tried to quell my jealousy and sense of injustice by telling myself these youngsters would never appreciate what they had. They probably would not even want to travel when they hit the age of 20. They probably would live in a suburb themselves and become business people and spend their money on vacations to Cancun. Right? The answer is probably not and I knew that deep in my heart. I don't really have a point with this by here is my question-what do you think about this?? Tell me your thoughts.

greg's picture

"business people" - a fate worse than death!

HeatherFife's picture

oh yea, no offense Greg

Speaking as a diplomat's child, I have to tell you; we do appreciate how lucky we are. As much as we gripe about how hard it is to move around, how hard it is to adjust and how homesick we are (then again the word 'home' has lost all meaning); we entirely understand how lucky we truly are.
It is a wonderful and interesting experience. I seen so much and the world feels so open to me. I have been to many different countries and learned different languages. While American children were trying to deal with puberty, I was trying to adjust to an entirely different culture.It may just be my experience, but I do feel that diplomat's children are more mature than kids their age back home. They understand more about the world around them and they learn quickly how to adapt. Though there are those awkward ones for instance when I was younger, I could more easily talk to adults about current events than I could to kids my own age about cartoons.But that's just me.
And you are right, most of us are planning to travel. It almost seems like a cycle, because often diplomats tend to have parents who were diplomat's themselves.

Would you be interested in Skyping with my class of fifth grade students about what it is like being a diplomat's child? We are reading a story next week about a man who was a Japanese diplomat to Lithuania during the time of World War II. The story is written from one of the diplomat's children's points of view. We would be interested to learn of any experiences you have had as a diplomat's child that have given you special insight into things that have shaped our world's history. Please contact me if you would be interested. Thanks.
Charlotte Hindman

Hey Diplomats Children! So sorry to spam this page!! Butt I'm making a documentary on the positives and negatives of growing up as a child of diplomat. I'm in Australia going into my third year of film at university, so I'm not sure where you live but we a thinking of having Skype interviews for some people. Soo If you are interested please email at: Leela.varghese@student.qut.edu.au :) I'd love to interview any of you!

I am the child of a diplomat and I can tell you, me and my siblings most definately appreciate how we live and that not many people get opportunities such as the ones we have. Seeing the world makes us appreciate it more.. coming from a wealthy western family, visiting places lilke India and poorer Asian countries really has put things in perspective for me.

There are so many advantages to this lifestyle. Meeting amazing people, doing things I otherwise wouldn't have.

But what alot of people don't realise is that there are many many disadvantages. The feeling of always being unstable "We're here for two years, where next? Home? Europe? America?" No matter how much you want to enjoy the moment that thought can be distressing.
And losing all the people you meet and love. We all say 'keep in touch' but how hard is that? A quick "Heyy" on Facebook is not keeping in touch. It makes me so sad thinking about all the people I've left, what life would be like if I could still be with them.

So honestly.. I understand where you're coming from. But there are some huge downsides to having parents who are diplomats.
I know one day I'll appreciate it alot more.

I'm 31 years old now and was the 'child' of a diplomat. I have to say that I still encounter some issues now after all the traveling that we went though. There are two things that are very difficult. Firstly your sense of identity. The simple question of 'where are you from' can take an hour to reply to. I was born in one place but lived here, there, and there. There are so many countries I can support when it comes to things like sport. I also grew up speaking 4 different accents and was very patriotic of each place by the time I left for the next! In a sense you wish sometimes that you were just born in once place and lived there and that's that. It would make things so much easier. But I think I would have preferred to grow up living abroad. Or would I? I did not have the choice. So how can I know if I would have preferred to have just lived in one place and grow up with the same people? Which brings me to my second point. A lot of people where I live now have friends that they have known since they were kids. I don't have that as I was always saying goodbye to them and moving on. So that can be difficult. I'm not sure about other diplomatic children, but I did develop a close bond with my siblings. Probably because we would move to another country and the only friends we had were each other.

Dear Kevin,

I am also a diplomat's daughter and reading your paragraph made me cry. I agree with you on everything. On the issue of Identity I keep repeating to people that I am a citizen of the world and if the international passport ever came out I would be first in line for it. When I was asked ''where is home'' I used to answer '' wherever my parents are''. Like you, I often wondered if I would've preferred to have always lived in one place rather than moving around all the time and the answer to that after a long reflection is that I prefer the lifestyle we had as when I compare myself to people who haven't moved around, I find them quite limited...but on the other hand they seem a lot less ''tortured'' in their minds and have a lot less references. As you said I also am very patriotic of each country I lived in and tend defend it as if it was my own. On the friends issue, luckily today I have important friends to me all over the world and consider them really a part of me as they have shared great memories, and represent each country or shall I say episode of my life. Of course I also have strong bonds with siblings and parents as they were the only ones who could share all the emotions linked to moving and identify to the same lifestyle. Finally as all of you I find that there are big advantages to being a diplomat's child such as being truly global people who adapt very quickly to any situation yet on the downside I am always longing for something I feel....but what? R.

I was just doing an application to my masters course, and my personal statement needed touching up, so I thought I'd look up diplomatic children to see what I might have missed out on.

Its been very interesting reading all this. I can relate to the fellow diplomats here. I can't relate to the others but what i can say to both is the grass is always greener on the other side (unless you choose not to have green grass).

The upsides of being a diplomat might be high, but the downsides are truly ruthless and cold hearted. I have no home, I have no childhood friends, no siblings and my parents are older now. I'm 22 and the only thing that justifies my life is moving around. doing my degree I've stayed in the same place for over 3 years for the first time in my life. I've decided to stay one more. but after my masters degree there is no doubt im heading straight for the foreign office to do the same all over again and i cant wait.

thats why i can tell you, the biggest downside is you become very cold hearted. I've said goobbye and cried so many times, that i might as well accept it when it happens and just move on. noone can relate to that because i was truly alone at the new school in a new country with no siblings and no friends. I am a master at making friends now and a master of seeing them go. I can spend time with myself better than anyone i know. i cant help it and thats just the way it is. alot of people get upset that i dont stay in touch. but i will never see them again so i get over that just as easily.

what i can say is, the world is funny. the less you want people the more they want you.

I'm 14 and i was just told that we're going on a posting again. of my family i've probably been the most resistant to the diplomat family's lifestyle. Although I enjoy the cultures I've been exposed to and the great experiences I get at my International schools there is one thing that always bothers me. The uncertainty. You're always sitting there waiting for something to come up. I've been back in Canada after two posting for the past 4 years. I've finally gotten used to the lifestyle here just as I'm about t o be whisked away to another foreign country. I think that's what all diplomat kid's are bothered by. On the other had though, I get antsy after not being abroad for more than a year so there's always a give and take for everything.
And then there's the big deal in the Canadian school's about my ravel. 'ohhh that's the kid that lived in Africa'. yea i wasn't living on the moon okay... i'm a human being too
Unlike my parent's I don't think I would devote my life to traveling abroad but I certainly plan on spending a portion of my life to continue exploring the places I've been to.

i resent this

i am the child of a diplomat and my parents dont give me thousands of dolloars. ever. we get ten dollors pocket money every week and we appriciate it. i am 15 and earn my own money babysitting, you obviously just met parents who dont know what they are doing

Couldn't agree more with singlechildmixed rae diploma though i do fin something strange with me as I've hit my mid-20s (dipomat child also)... After being very mature at young age, feel I have regresed tremendously in the past 2-3 years, perhaps making up time for an 'innocence' thatwas taken away from me(coming of age experinces with friends you have known a long time, a comfortable, familiar environment etc.). I am cold-hearted as well and genuinely enjoy spending time by myself also... The downside is I have never really hada serious girlrfriend as such, and have no desire or need to open upp myself emotionally to others...

Sorry, I wrote the comment above, I just wanted to apologise for my atrocious spelling, since there was a problem with my keyboard. I have found all the contributions to this thread very interesting and would enjoy to hear more!

I'm a diplomats daughter and fed up!decided to stay here in my most recent location cause I'm 19 and don't have that many timeless zoneless friends. I have a problem keeping in touch and am in need of some teenage fun without worrying about "oh no the daugter of an ambassador can't act like this"! I'm blessed to have travelled so much before my 20th but honestly now I'd rather choose where I go instead of being thrown around to random places...
Like the others said it's got it's good and bad and I'd like to add that being different culturally may have it's effects on self esteem... I would know!

I'm not a diplomat's child but I intend to become one. I've lived for more than half of my life on 3 different continents. This is a pure personal choice and although I might define myself first as African, I definitely consider myself as a world citizen. I love travelling, I love learning about new cultures, having to humble yourself to adapt to new settings. As the years pass by, I am less and less tolerant to things which are way too different from what I now consider as "normal". However, since I highly resent having a sedentary life, I'd rather have one that is gonna take me around the world.
My friends and family don't get it, they're the kind of people who are happy with living at one place for their all life.
A former diplomat's daughter told me about her experiences: how teachers used to find her "weird", how she felt "out of place" in every school she attended. It made me question my choice for a moment. However, I am in my thirties and even in my twenties, I could see how more open-minded I was than people around me. This is the result of living in different countries, of meeting people from various cultural backgrounds, of not thinking that the world ends at your doorstep. If I have kids, I'll make my best in making them understand that it's up to them to find a place called home. You don't have to spend ages in one place to feel at home. I've been living for more than 5 years in Canada and this country will never feel like home to me. I've been to Greece and it did feel like home.
I have friends who are all over the world, I made a point of honor of keeping in touch the traditional way (my phone bills are ridiculous) but it's worth it. I like having conversations with my Indian friend about some of her decisions who are mostly dictated by strong social conventions I don't get along with at all. What do I do? Do I give her a lecture about what it should be based on what's done in my country? No, I shut up and respect her convictions, trying to maybe learn from it. Try to have the same type of conversation with someone who never lived abroad: it turns into the Sunday's lecture.

These messages are truly interesting. I've come to this page because in the last few months I've had a lot of trouble adapting to my new situation so I've been doing some research, looking for other peoples experience.
My parents are German diplomats. I've already lived in 6 different countries, speak 5 languages and yet I'm only 16. I've lived in very diverse places. I am born in the UAE and since then have lived in Dubai, Beirut, Lisbon and Bucharest until lately.
I've never really felt an identity problem until this summer. Usually I would see myself as the typical german and would actually brag about it on such occasions as the soccer World Cup or when it came to discuss the world's economic situation. Anyway last spring came the news: my parents were transferred to Berlin.
During my last semester in Bucharest I felt really excited. I didn't like Romania a lot for multiple reasons and Berlin seemed like a cool place to live. Besides it would technically mean that I was going "home" for the first time in over 12 years. But I soon learned that it is not my home. I actually feel more like a stranger here than I ever did before and I can't adapt myself. to anything. And worse of all, nobody seems to understand my problems. In my school there are virtually no expats which is kind of shocking to me for such a city as Berlin (I go to a french school). And when I lament my situation because of the cold, because I can't travel that much anymore (since here in Germany my parents are just "normal" government people) etc. everybody qualifies it as "luxury problems".
In a way I do understand their reaction, because diplomats often live a high lifestyle. But they never understand that our lives aren't always perfect. Some of us go through wars (like myself in the 2006 Lebanon War) others see extrem poverty and hardship.
But all in all it is such a positiv experience. I've seen so many things that I can actually have a clear view on what's going on in the world. And what's nice is that even though I lived really really well, I got to do a lot of charity work (especially in Romania) and meet so many great people. Even if my life at the moment feels kind of depressing, I'm trying to make the best out of it and I hope that my future job will enable me to travel as much as I did during my childhood.


I'm a diplomat's daughter, UK born, lived in Berlin, Switzerland, Croatia, France...

I'm thinking about making a documentary about the lives of foreign office children. Your story sounds really interesting and I was wondering if you would be interested in contributing?

I'm really looking to follow a few personal stories, to show how difficult it can be to adapt to another culture, and to return to one's own native culture.

The project is in its early stages, but if it's something you would be happy to take part in, it would be great to have your contributions, whether its in the form of a video blog, a written testimonial such as above, or allowing us to spend a few days following your story.

Many thanks, and don't despair- the hard parts of being a diplomat's child are also in some ways the good parts!


"I felt like a minority kid from the ghetto who never knew her dad and did drugs at the age of seven for the first time compared to these kids."

This is a horrible analogy. Good grief.

Yes. Thank you. My dad is a diplomat and I found it very interesting to read through this discussion, but that analogy just about killed the post for me, particularly the writer's paralleling of "girl raised in a middle class home" with "a minority kid from the ghetto" -- so "girl raised in a middle class home" automatically = white? And this analogy is meant to express the writer's sense of inferiority; so the "minority kid from the ghetto" is in turn inferior to the writer?

We can have this conversation without kneejerk racism and classism, and I think it's especially important -- and incumbent on us -- to do so since those are two issues that often shape growing up in a diplomatic family/community (and are not discussed enough).

I had the wonderful experience of volunteering for an NGO in Uganda, East Africa when I was about 18-19 years old. This was only about 5 years ago. Anyways, it was the best time of my life. I met a family there, an American family. The mother had started her own NGO and the father was a diplomat, they had three little boys. Their six year old put me to shame. I couldn't help but feel the same envy that you described in your blog post. Don't get me wrong, I was fascinated with these kids and would spend every minute I possibly could picking their brain. But overall, I kept thinking, I wish I had been a diplomat's child. Such an exciting life. They went to an International private school, which I got the pleasure of visiting one day... Oh boy! ALL the children there were like them. They were so much wiser than other kids their age. I would think of my own brothers, back at home in the states and couldn't even begin to compare them to these kids. They were like nothing I had ever seen before. They left a huge impression on my life. I left Africa and my experience there, thinking, "One day I would love my children to be as cultured, sophisticated, and intelligent as them." I have a 16 month old of my own now... And still would love to see him excel like that one day...

Those are just my thoughts.

all the comments above touched me deeply,
I am also a daughter of a diplomat,
and to be honest, I love my life, yet at times, things just seem so depressing .
I recently moved again, I am now currently living in the suburbs where most of the students in my school has grown up in the same town. I admit that i am pretty good at making new friends since this is the nth time that i've changed schools. yet this time,,, it was different. the students here have known each other ever since they were small, and it's really hard for an outsider to join in their little group that they have already created a while back.
being a diplomats' kid is not as easy as what the others think, yes we have traveled a lot, and been to many places where others only dream of. however as many of the others have already mentioned, we have become pretty cold-hearted. leaving friends behind not knowing when you will see them again. it is harder once you devote yourself to a relationship.
but hey, that's our life.. we gotta live it to the fullest.

I can relate to most of you folks here. I love traveling and exploring new places and learning about new cultures. And that is why I feel like an international citizen with no home. However, unlike most people I don't have any childhood friends or any ties. Sometimes I wonder (and I know this sounds silly and I am only in my 20's but hey) if I will even have any friends over at my wedding (that is if I ever have one) unless they are willing to fly in. And unfortunately they probably won't because it is hard to keep close ties with people when you grew up moving around so much.
I did spend 6-7 years in my home country, but everyone at school treated me like an alien since I was so "different" from them, and I never made any close friends. I hated "home" but unfortunately that's where I "belong" especially since my dad's retirement is almost here. I have been going to school in America for the last 7 years but unfortunately I will have to leave soon.
The good thing though is that due to living in so many places from childhood (and even birth for some people) you become very adaptive and flexible. You also do become cold-hearted in the sense that you forget about your friends and your home (for the past few years) very easily.
My situation, however, is a little unique from everyone else's. I didn't get to learn too many languages since I didn't always have to take the native language courses in school. When abroad, I attended American international schools but at "home" I went to local British schools.

Would anyone that's a former or current child of a diplomat be interested in answering some questions for a young adult thriller/sci-fi novel I'm developing? I'd be happy to credit you in the acknowledgements page.

Primarily, I'm looking for American or European diplomats, but anything would be helpful. I like to get my details straight about things many people would consider "minor," and would love to get detailed information about your day-to-day experiences and feelings. Nothing is considered too private or taboo - what you share is entirely up to you, and I won't press if a subject is uncomfortable. Since this is a fiction work, things will be changed in the actual book, but if something is "off the record," you have my promise it won't be included verbatim without your permission.

Please contact me through my website by clicking my name above (I admit it looks rather unprofessional - hasn't been updated in almost 10 years!). If my website doesn't link properly, typing my name into google should bring it up with the top result. Please use the word "diplomat" in your subject line, so you don't get caught in my spam filter! ; )

Thank you!

PS Oh... one more thing... I'm on a time-crunch here, so the sooner I can get anything, the better.

I'm interested in answering some of your questions, I'm open minded so it's okay...I went through your website but yeah, it's quite old and hard to follow so I just though I could send you a reply.
Hopefully it's not too late, I really want to help you with your science fiction novel.
I'm waiting for your answer.

another diplomat's child here. I'm 22 now, I do not move around any more since i'm in university now. I guess it's different for eveyone. I have some friends (also children of diplomats) who are really grounded, speak languages like me, and are making their own way into diplomacy or politics in their countries...but i also know a LOT of them who have no clue about what to do about their lives... i know quite a few who did or are doing drugs or attempted suicide... and i also remember a difficult age -between 15 and 18 maybe- when everyhing felt boring so we pushed the limits in order to feel alive one more time.

of course it's easy to talk about social/historycal/political matters, it's easy to understand and like other cultures and to impress older people with our experiences, thinking patterns, etc, but there are a lot of not-so-great things implied. i just named a few.

about the traveling, yes, i feel dead when i'm not moving around. i miss so many places I couldn't stay in one. I have many places I can call "home" that's the good part!

I'm twenty a diplomat's child in the same situation as you. The four year in this university I am in right now would eventually be the place I stayed the longest to call "home" in my life. I also have few diplomatic childhood friends that i keep in contact with. When comparing myself to them I have always thought I was well behind academically. Even though they lived moving around they seemed to do better than those kids who have stayed in one place all their lives. This made me stressed out and depressed during junior and high school. As diplomatic children I think we have to work at least twice as or three times harder to do well in school. (the catching up as well as getting used to the new environment). I'm so glad the moving is over (now that I'm in college). But after college there is no "home" to go back to. I kind of have to create my "home". I also agree that we are not readily excited with things that get the kids our age excited. We are easily bored and thus become cold-hearted as well as become too mature too early. This makes it harder to make and connect to our age group friends. Anyhow I could go on and on. At the moment, I'm jsut trying to get used to this life that is not under the lifestyle "diplomat's child" and struggling to find my identity and home.

I'm also a diplomat's child. I found this site when I was surfing for "diplomat's kids aren't allowed to socialize with foreigners" Ironic I know, but my dad THINKS anyone could be a spy and want to use me for political sabotage against him or information extraction. I personally think this is impossible because I don't go around blaring my personal background to strangers, unless they were employers, NGO directors who NEED to know my background in order to determine whether or not I'm fit for the job/position. So "spies" won't use me if they don't even know my background. Getting to the point though, I was just trying to make sure whether or not it was an actual law, like how you can't drink if you're under the designated drinking age, diplomat's children can't associate with certain individuals for the sake of national security. So far I deem my father's warning the result of parental paranoia, but I'll keep my socializing in check nonetheless.

In regard to how diplomat's kids/children tend to feel as they travel or have even matured, it's all true. I get frustrated I can't make friends like everyone else let alone keep them. I regret leaving the ones I had. But most of all I'm angry. I'm angry that I've no control, that no one else my age can understand me, that my parents needed 18 years to begin to realize my childhood might have affected the current way I am. Most of the time, I'm just damn angry that I'm being angry for what wasn't in my control anyway. But through all that, I've come to understand that my past made me the person I am today, that you have to just work with what you've got...Sometimes though, the malicious festering anger and depression resurge and it's quite the storm to overcome.
Ultimately, I am turning 19 in October, and the last 5 years in the pits of depression seem more like a nightmare I JUST woke up from rather than a nightmare I will continue living. I'm glad I got through my hurdles and I wish everyone can do the same, even those who don't share my/our "interesting" background(s).

That and knowing 3 languages (and probably more in the future!) is pretty bitchin' LOL

Well I am also a child of diplomat , and there's pros and cons like everyone else said here .
I mean , it's really great when you're a kid, then when you get to that age around 12-13 everything gets harder. personally we could stay like 6 years in a country , then it's now 3 or less. Ive lost lot of good friends, when I say lost it's a bit drastic but I see it this way, I met good people, bad people, a lot of things you don't see when you live in the country you were born. Anyway, I found this page randomly while typing on google: what should a child of diplomate do as job , I'm totally lost , that's why I typed that. HAHA might sound crazy but travelling so much made me very open minded but also kind of ' dizzy' not the right word I was looking for ...I feel like I don't belong to this world, yeah maybe a lot of people in our same situation feel that way, But I wouldn't change my situation for anything in the world. I was born this way, and I think wanting to change things means you will never find happiness. I'm okay this way, not belonging to ONE place, not knowing the same people during my whole life, not knowing who I am exactly. Cheers to all of you, children of diplomats wherever you are! LOL
My quote: ' Wherever the herd goes, I generally go the other direction." Yeppp ;)

Hey Guys,
I'm film and tv student and I'm currently pitching a third year documentary about growing up as a diplomats child! I really want to be able to make a pitch that is really personalised, and I am wondering if anyone would be interested in sending me a profile of themselves, the different countries you've lived,in and the pros and the cons of growing up this way! Basically would love to just here your story. If so you can contact me at Leela.varghese@student.qut.edu.au! It's just great to put faces and real people to an idea when pitching :) so if you wouldn't mind that would be mad!

I am scheduled for an interview with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the next couple of months. If successful, I will join the diplomatic corps as a diplomatic attaché..With my deep interest in world cultures and languages; I really hope I am selected..It would truly be a dream turn true!

Hello everyone,
As the son of a diplomat I must say, it is difficult (and it is shameful) not to value what our parents have done for us, the ability to travel and meet new cultures, languages etc. Before you start feeling bad about your own background though, don't forget what You have- and how it has worked out for you. I remember having problems in school, during my elementary and high school years I changed schools seven times and catching up, making new friends or simply keeping anything organized for a longer period of time was very difficult. You get used to accepting new cultures, learning their ways and what not but even a simple thing like "highschool love" is complicated by the fact that you have to leave anyway. Personally I am very thankful to my parents, on the other hand I can't stay anywhere for more than a few years as I've never done it before. As somebody mentioned in here, alot of bad influences are also common- on multiple occasions I remember going to school on my bicycle, squeezing between eighty ton tanks or having guns pointed at me. Drugs, alcohol, sex and the usual things your parents don't want you to experience till a certain age come alot sooner than they probably should. Its up to you how you decide about them.

Hey Diplomats Children! So sorry to spam this page!! Butt I'm making a documentary on the positives and negatives of growing up as a child of diplomat. I'm in Australia going into my third year of film at university, so I'm not sure where you live but we a thinking of having Skype interviews for some people. Soo If you are interested please email at: Leela.varghese@student.qut.edu.au :) I'd love to interview any of you!

Hey Diplomats Children! So sorry to spam this page!! Butt I'm making a documentary on the positives and negatives of growing up as a child of diplomat. I'm in Australia going into my third year of film at university, so I'm not sure where you live but we a thinking of having Skype interviews for some people. Soo If you are interested please email at: Leela.varghese@student.qut.edu.au :) I'd love to interview any of you!

P.s does posting this message mean everyone will know I have posted it? Never used this website before?

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