Children on the Move

Your boss walks in and says, "Clean out your office. We're moving you to Timbuktu for awhile. Don't quite know what's there or what you'll be doing, but, uh, good luck!" Of course, you can always refuse and go find another job. But what can your kids do when you announce that the family is moving: Find another family? Add this bombshell to the frustration of not knowing how to express what you're feeling. "What about...What can I...How will I...Now what will I...?"

Best advice: Before you announce the move, empathize with each child, considering how the child will handle the emotions of the move. Then look for ways to make the situation easier.

Very young children may not need to know about your upcoming move as soon as you make a decision. In fact, telling them too far in advance can expand their fear of the unknown. If possible, put off telling very young children until the last few weeks—or until packing begins. Home is the young child's entire world. A particular house is not their world; the family and things in it is. As long as the family remains intact, most preschoolers will focus on the loss of their familiar home rather than friends or other outside influences. So, if you can, bring children to your new home in advance of the move—or at least as soon as you arrive—and help them get acquainted. Help them pick out their room. Remember that some children seem to handle moving well, but are really in turmoil about the change. Consider each child’s uniqueness and needs as you help them move.

Young school-age children usually have strong friendship bonds and also take a while to make new friends. Check the new neighborhood for children near their ages. Find out if their new school has an orientation program for new students. Get them involved in after-school activities. Also check out your favorite church, synagogue or spiritual meeting place for activities that can help your kids cope and socialize.

"I'll live on the streets!" As appealing as this proposition may seem to you, resist the urge to let them! Teenagers find moving more difficult than younger children. And they will typically make it more difficult. Their life probably revolves around friends and activities outside the home. You're now threatening to disrupt their entire social structure. And teens know what fun they have with "the new kid." Actually, teens can benefit from a move, but they have to realize the benefits themselves rather than be told. So the approach for helping a teen move is different than that for younger family members.

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