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Moving the Family

Factors to consider before packing up.

Deposit Photos/ Monkey Business
Source: Deposit Photos/ Monkey Business

If you're like most couples, the decision to move is tough and oftentimes, an agonizing one. But what about a couple that is without a job for months? Then one day that call comes and an offer of employment sits on the table, only it's in another state? Finally, the relief of the financial pressures of the past months feels like it's being lifted off of your shoulders. A fresh new start awaits or does it?

Next comes the conversations with your partner. Do you move the entire family to a new town? What if your family doesn't adjust to the new setting? What if everyone is unhappy except you? What happens when something that looked so good from the outside isn't what it seemed on the inside? Worse yet, what if your kids, in particular your teen, doesn't fit in to the new school and starts showing signs of anxiety and depression?

Does guilt set in? Do you feel like you've uprooted everyone for the sake of financial livelihood? What was meant to be a fresh start becomes a home of depression, frustration, anxiety and stress. What then? Now you're faced with the decision of toughing it out and sticking together, or splitting the family and letting them go back home to live. Back to the days of bachelorhood - a living arrangement you haven't experienced in years. If that story sounds a little far-fetched - it's not. Many Americans can relate to difficult stories like this one. Moving and uprooting the family is a big decision and in truth you never know how it's going to turn out, but there are some steps you can take to cover your bases.

Angel Vasilev/Depositphotos
Source: Angel Vasilev/Depositphotos

If you are facing the decision of whether or not to move it's good to have a plan A and B. Often things don't go as planned, so having a backup is always a good option. But before making a move there are some important things to consider such as:

  • What is motivating the decision to move? Is it financial necessity, a job promotion, or a new career?
  • Will you and your partner be able to find employment in the new town?
  • What is the price of living in the new town, and is it comparable to the price of living in your current one?
  • Who will you be leaving behind? For example, are you saying goodbye to solid friendships, extended family, and/or a strong social support system?
  • What are the similarities and differences between your current residence and the new one? For example, how is the climate, is the population size similar, does the new town have things you enjoy doing?
  • Are your children secure and happy in their schools? Who will they be leaving behind? Are there things they enjoy doing in the new town?
  • Are you and your partner on board 100% with the move?
  • Are there are any unresolved feelings or issues in making a commitment to move? Any apprehension that is not dealt with upfront can result in frustration and animosity - two things you don't want in a romantic relationship.
Monkey Business/Depositphotos
Source: Monkey Business/Depositphotos

Okay - you and your partner have decided to take the plunge and uproot the family, next you have to break the news to your kid(s). Teens often have the most to lose from making a move because so much of their life revolves around peers and being accepted. Be prepared for sadness and maybe even anger. Your teen may even run the gamut of emotions. Every situation is unique and an individual's ability to adapt is oftentimes unpredictable (especially if this is the first time he/she has faced this situation). The bottom line is change isn't easy. Here are some tips to make your conversation with your teen a little easier:

  • Be prepared. Research the area prior to moving. If your teen is an athlete go ahead and scope out the sports program in the area, maybe you can place a call to the coach. If your teen is a musician, find a good instructor and go ahead and line up a few lessons. The main thing is getting your teen involved in something so he/she can get vested in the community.
  • Be proactive. As for school, research the schools in the area and meet with the counselor. Arrange a tour - or if the school does a shadow program, have your teen hangout with another student for the day. Sometimes these small steps can help kindle a connection and really make a difference in whether or not your teen fights or adjusts to the move. You may also consider setting up a parent teacher conference at the beginning of the school term. Teachers can help your teen transition into his or her class more easily if they know in advance he/she is coming. Also, they can help keep an eye on your teen and the transition/adjustment process.
  • Be realistic. Moving is more than just manual labor. Moving requires a lot of emotional and social work. You aren't just physically moving, but you're emotionally saying goodbye to a place that may hold dear friendships, family, and years of memories. Saying goodbye is hard and starting over is a lot of work.
  • Be empathetic. Address your teen's concerns and fears. Most teens are worried about leaving their friends, fitting in and being accepted. To many youth social skills don't come naturally, but have to be learned and practiced. They often feel awkward and choose to isolate rather than engage. If your teen goes in thinking he/she will make friends like back home in a few weeks, or even in a few months… that's not very realistic. It's hard to compare friendships of a lifetime to new emerging friendships and teens often do exactly that...
  • Be mindful of your teen's world. With the use of social media teens often spend a lot of time wrapped up in the virtual world and miss out on real world socialization skills. So, connecting with peers may be more of a dilemma with today's generation than in the past. Also with social networking, your teen may continue to connect with the relationships back home and not try new ones in the place he/she now lives.
  • Be patient. It takes a lot of work to make new friends and teens often lack the start-up skills to initiate meeting new people.
Jason Stitt/Depositphotos
Source: Jason Stitt/Depositphotos

Okay, let's say you've already been there and done that and it's still not working. Perhaps you didn't plan as well as you should have or perhaps you did, but unexpected things came up - now what? Now it's time for plan B. Do you make a decision to split the family for the children's sake? If only there was a one size fits all answer to this question, but there isn't. Everyone's situation is unique and just as you and your family made the decision to move, you'll also need to come up with a backup plan.

If you decide to split the family, perhaps you'll need to consider re-entering the job market. If you've been without employment for a while, at least you have a job. You're in a different game now, where you aren't pressed to find a job out of desperation. You can hold out for the right opportunity. Also knowing your situation is temporary can help bring comfort to your dilemma. On the other hand, perhaps, your family will be up for a "do over" - trying the move again in the future, but this time making sure all bases are covered… even the ones you missed last time. Who knows, the new town may grow on your family after multiple visits.

Moving isn't easy. It takes a team approach to make a move successful. When you and your partner are considering uprooting the family, remember to take as many factors as possible into account. The family is a team, and it needs all players to function effectively.

If you have already moved and it didn't go as planned, remind yourself "this too shall pass". Take time to appreciate and be grateful for the good things that are going on around you. Even in your most dismal and trying times there are things to be grateful for and it is those things that will help get you through your most difficult situations...

If you too have had to journey down this road, please share your story the in the comments section. Share how your situation worked out. Did you go with plan A or did you have to resort to plan B?

More from Raychelle Cassada Lohmann Ph.D.
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