Wikipedia defines inertia as “the resistance of any physical object to a change in its state of motion or rest, or the tendency of an object to resist any change in its motion.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inertia) When dealing with the challenges of moving, Sir Isaac Newton’s earth-shattering discovery doesn’t often enter our conscious minds, but it is certainly present, lurking in our subconscious. The reasons a family decides to move are as varied as families themselves – new job, divorce, death, up-sizing, down-sizing, the list goes on.
Whatever the reason, moving to a new home is rarely the first choice of your children. They are firmly planted in the “Land of Inertia.” They have their friends, favorite hang-outs, and their own comfortable (possibly somewhat smelly) personal space. Giving kids a sense of control over their circumstances before, during and after moving can help ease the adjustment into their new normal. Most school-age children are project-oriented so developing moving check lists and giving them moving projects can give them a greater sense of control over what is happening. Don’t be surprised if, after the move is complete, reality sets in and your school-ager expresses anger, frustration, or blames you for “ruining their lives.” Try not to remind them of their initial excitement and involvement in the move but give them the opportunity to grieve the loss, talk about how difficult change can be, and find productive ways to cope.
While teenagers have more advanced social and critical thinking skills, they still need time to adjust and assistance in identifying and coping with the variety of emotions they feel related to moving. It is important to give teens as much time as possible to grieve the loss and say their good-byes. Facilitating opportunities to hang out with friends, helping them throw a moving party, and visiting their new school, if possible, can help teens feel more control over what is happening to them. While teen need more space cope, they will also need help from parents to manage their feelings about moving.
While time may indeed heal most wounds, counting on the simply the passing of days won’t bring the results you are looking for.
For more information about the Moving Families Initiative, please visit www.movingfamiliesinitiative.com.