In the past four years, my poor kids have endured three moves – one, out of state. To add fuel to fire, two of the moves took place in the middle of a school year.
Yes, my husband and I became adept at putting our kids through the torture chamber. Even now, calling an innocent family meeting is met with wails of, “Oh, no! Are we moving again?”
The hardest hit in our series of moves was my oldest son. He was smack in the middle of his high school career when we packed up and relocated to another state. He loved his school, friends, coaches, you name it. So, he hated us for a little while and mourned the change of scenery, but guess what? Nowadays he tells me that he likes his new group of friends even better. The transition was painful, but he is once again successful and content.
We all know that most kids are plenty resilient. They take the bumps and bruises of life and move on. But, as parents, we often suffer their bumps, too. Our hearts ache as we watch them leave their friends and hesitantly start their lives over at a brand-new school.
We wonder if the new kids will be kind. Will the teachers be gentle? How many nights will we endure tears?
No move is simple, but there are ways to ease the pain a bit. Whether you’re relocating within your city or to a foreign country, try some of these tips.
Keep them in the know
In my opinion, it’s better to be up front with your moving plans. Don’t wait to spring your move on your kids right before leaving. Letting them know early on allows them sufficient time to process the information and mentally prepare for the transition.
Talk up the new location
Does your new area boast a great amusement park, ski resort or zoo? Help your kids look forward to the venues your new location offers. Show enthusiasm as you research together. Make plans to immediately sightsee and visit places of interest.
Encourage your kids to message their old friends
The world isn’t so vast anymore. Help your kids maintain their old friendships via Instagram, Snapchat or Skype. Gradually, new friends will dominate their time, but holding on to the old friendships will be an important source of comfort to your kids.
Teach your kids to lean on each other
A move will strain your kids’ established relationships. However, your family can only grow stronger. When they lack new friends to hang out with, your children can turn to you and each other. Take the opportunity to strengthen your family’s bonds.
Listen to their woes and offer your sympathy, but teach your children to keep their chins up. Recognize and applaud their milestones: “You made it through your first week of school!” or “Now you know how to get around the neighborhood!”
Get them involved
As soon as possible, sign up your kids for sports, music lessons or other extracurricular activities. The sooner they get involved, the more likely they’ll be to meet people and form new friendships.
Don’t push the friend issue
Peppering your kids daily with, “Have you made any friends?” can be discouraging. Friendships can take a while; let your child move at his own pace.
After one of our moves, my once-social teenage son seemed to flounder at securing new friends. For several months, I stressed over his solitude and social difficulties. Then finally, it hit me. This son was content. He was enjoying school and his hobbies. He wasn’t depressed, so I decided to quit worrying. My son made new friends on his own time and is doing fine.
Be there for your kids, but also allow them some room to adjust. When the weeks roll by and things still seem hard, don’t despair. It took my kids six months to a year to really feel like they had found their place.