You’ve just found out that you’re being transferred to a different office in a new area — what next? Job changes and moving are difficult enough, so how do you handle relocating with kids? How will you tell your teen that the family is moving? Read on for tips on breaking the news and helping your teen through the transition.
Tell your Teen ASAP
As exciting and scary as this new chapter is for you and your family, resist the urge to tell family, friends, and neighbors before telling the kids. While you need time to digest the news of relocation and uprooting your life, don’t forget that your teen deserves time to adjust to the news, too. Whatever you do, don’t start this move on the wrong foot by having your teen be the last to know. Not only will they resent the fact that you didn’t let them know sooner, but it can also make the transition much more difficult.
Understand the Angst
We all joke that our teen’s tricks are nothing new because we tried them when we were younger, too, but if you never moved as a teen, don’t assume that it will be easy. This is a moment for you to put yourself in your kid’s shoes — how would you have felt being told that you were moving to a different town or state when you were a teen?
Understand that teens spend a great deal of time creating their worlds — sports, clubs, cliques, etc. — and this move could shatter their world. Do allow your teen to vent their frustration, sadness, and even anger, but don’t let them become destructive about it. Acknowledge their feelings, but be firm about the fact that this move is happening. Now, more than ever, your teen needs you to be a model listener and master communicator.
Help Them Prepare
Once you know where you’re going, start looking at points of interest in your new area. Are there fun activities available for kids? What school will they be attending? What activities does the new school offer? The internet has helped many teens adjust to a major move, so use it to your advantage and research your new town alongside your kiddo — you’ll be able to share in the excitement of the newness of it all, as well as to avail yourself for any questions and uncertainties that arise.
Realize that you’re Uprooting your Kids
While it may seem obvious, you need to remain mindful of how this move will impact your kids. If this is your teen’s first move, it can be downright devastating and you need to acknowledge that fact with patience and understanding. And if your teen seems to have trouble adjusting after your move, don’t hesitate to put them in contact with a counselor who can help them with the transition. It’s not going to be easy, and the more you realize that the more you can be prepared to handle your teen’s frustration.
Make your Kids a Part of the Process
Add your children’s input to your moving list. While you and your partner may have definite ideas about the type of house you’re looking for, and the school district you want your kids to attend, try to involve them in the house-hunting process as much as possible.
One of the best parts about my family’s move, when I was in middle school, was the fact that my father brought me along to house tours. The home we — and I stress “we” — decided upon was heavily influenced by my input. Having previously been in a busy suburb, I chose a home that had a patch of woods behind it, perfect for exploring and making trails. There were plenty of kids my age on the street — something I hadn’t had in the area in which we lived previously — and ample opportunities to be outside; it was a win-win.
Try to include your kids in the house-hunting process, and really listen to their input — this simple move can make the difference between a rough transition and one that is filled with anticipation and excitement. Allowing your teen to take part in choosing a home allows them to take ownership of the move.
Realize that this is an Excellent Opportunity
While teens thrive with a routine and set schedule, this is an excellent opportunity to build tolerance for change. In a few years, your teen will be out on their own, perhaps attending college in another state or moving out on their own. Your relocation is an opportunity for your teen to experience a major life-change and begin building resilience (and survival skills).