The Moving Day Blues
Helping your teen cope with moving and saying goodbye
Posted June 13, 2013
Summer is almost here. School's out; it's time for summer jobs, family vacations and a moving van. Yikes! What? It’s true, June and July mark the calendar as the most popular months to move. So, needless to say there is a whole lot of moving going on. One reason for summer's popularity in moving is because school's out making the transition smoother if you have kids. If you have a teenager, a summertime move means you don’t have to worry about credits transferring to the new school or interrupting extracurricular or sporting activities. So logically, summer is the ideal time to make a move. While that may make perfect sense, your teen may not being buying it. In fact, if your teen doesn't want to move he/she may become rather vocal and dig in his/her heels in objection.
You see, from a teen’s perspective this ‘move thing’ may be sabotaging friendships, not to mention ruining his/her life. This is especially true for the teen that has lots of friends and has found his or her ‘niche’ in school whether through sports, clubs, arts, or other activities. Now, you're asking your teen to uproot and dismiss all of the work he/she has put into making friends and “adjust” to a new school, new house, new town, and strange people. Really? Yes, really...and this experience can feel devastating and awkward to your teen. In general, teens like structure, consistency, predictability and stability. When these things aren't present it can rock their foundation. But if you have to move, you’ve got to move and there are some things you can do to help your teen cope with the change.
Check out these top Do's and Don'ts for helping your teen cope with moving.
Do: Let them know about the move as soon as you know it’s certain. Don’t postpone telling your teen because you dread the aftermath. Tell him/her all of the essentials by disclosing the date of move, the location you’re moving to, and why you've decided this move would be good for the family. Go online and show your teen some cool things to do in your new town.
Don't keep him/her in the dark. If you want to deal with an angry or hurt teen then let him/her find out that you've been keeping the moving thing a secret. Your teen may feel like his/her opinion doesn't matter and that's probably not what you want. Speak openly and honestly about the move. Plus, teens like to feel in control and keeping him/her in the loop shows that you trust and respect his/her feelings.
Do: Take your teen's preferences into consideration when looking for a new place. Of course you’ll have the ultimate say, but if he/she feels that their voice is heard it can make your teen feel like they're contributing to the decision.
Don’t exclude your teen from the decision making. Sure you’ve got a lot on your plate, but the move is affecting the whole family. Consider your teen’s thoughts and opinions on the new neighborhood and schools. Encourage your teen to explore the new place online. That way he/she will begin to become familiar with the town, where to hang out, schools, popular thing to do, etc.
Do: Plan to go back shortly after you move to visit your old home. Keeping in touch with friends is important, plus it can help the move go smoother. If your teen already knows he/she will be back in a month, it will help saying goodbye go a lot easier. Also, encourage your teen to Skype, FaceTime, Instagram, text, etc. his/her friends. The move doesn’t have to be a definite goodbye. With the help of the internet, your teen can keep up with friends 24/7 from hundreds of miles away.
Don’t ignore your teen’s feelings. Allow proper time to say goodbye to friends. Throw a party or have a get together with your teen’s closest friends. Allow time for closure or resentment may set in.
Do: Socialize. Once you get to your new town, look for cool things for teens to do. Check out the local malls, movie theaters, summer camps, etc. Also when looking for a place to live, try to see how many peers your teen’s age live there or around the area. If you live in a neighborhood with lots of teens --- consider a simple gathering to meet your new neighbors. Not only will this help your teen break the ice, it will also help you meet your neighbors.
Don't: Rush and/or push your teen to do more than he/she is ready for. Respect your teen's space after the move. You can gently lead him/her to do new things, but allow some time and space for him/her to settle. Go ahead and brace yourself for some turbulent water. Don't get frustrated if your teen becomes more defiant and moody. Your teen is just trying to express how he/she is feeling. Moving is a big deal and it's stressful, there is no way around it. Remember, change is hard and takes time to embrace it.
Do: Get excited about the move and change. Moving isn't a bad thing. A lot of awesome things can be learned from this experience. For example, it may be your way to help your teen become more confident and break out of his/her shell. If you’re dealing with a high school student, just think: in a few years, he/she will be going off to college, work, or the military - all of which will require transition skills. Your teen will have an advantage in this domain, because he/she has already crossed this path. Off side, some teens may really be looking forward to the move and a fresh start.
Don’t feel guilty about the move. If you’ve decided to move, odds are you have a good reason for it. So don’t let guilt drive you. On that note, don’t bribe your teen with clothes or electronic devices because you’re compensating for your own guilt. Plan a fun event when you get to your new home. Personally, I remember when we moved and arrived at our new home with our furniture a day behind us. I got a blanket, picked up subs and we had a picnic in our new house. To this day my children remember that picnic. It doesn't take much to spark a positive experience.
So the boxes are on the floor and the nail holes are all patched. With a final sweep through the house, memories fill the air. Yes, realization has hit, it’s moving day... And just as memories fill the house your leaving, they are waiting to be created at your new home. Hopefully by now there is a stir of excitement, but keep in mind that it’s going to take time to adjust. Moving, whether good or bad, is a big life stressor and there's no way around it. You can best help your teen with the transition by keeping the lines of communication open and staying in tune with her/his needs. Now, go ahead bid your last farewell and close the door to this chapter as a new one awaits. Cheerio!