Moving forward – that seems to be part of our genetic make-up. Our ancestors landed at Plymouth and kept moving forward until the Pacific Ocean stopped them. We can look at our lives as a series of progressive steps, hopefully most of them forward. Some of us feel in a great deal of control over those steps and some of us don’t.
In our professional lives, many of us work at moving forward and when that hard work pays off (hello, promotion!!), it can involve relocating our families in order to take advantage of all the benefits that promotion affords. It might be relocation to a bigger, better home and neighborhood. It might be relocation to a different city or state. This forward progress feels good, even natural, to us. To our kids, it feels like something totally out of their control and exceedingly “unfair.”
Change and transition are turbulent times for everyone, most especially children. Studies on relocation show that kids who are well adjusted before a move will, most likely, be well adjusted after the move. This implies there is a level of protective factors provided by parents, friends and other significant people in the child’s life. This underscores the critical nature of support. Parents may have conflicting emotions about relocation due to their job. On the one hand, it can be the culmination of years of hard work finally paying off. On the other hand, they may be hearing on a daily (if not hourly) basis how they are “ruining” the lives of their teenager. Dramatics notwithstanding, relocation will affect each family member differently. However, attitude of both parents plays a major role in their children’s experience of and adjustment to the transition.
So how can parents manage their own emotions about the move in order to positively support their children through the transition of relocating to a new home.
1. Check yourself: Make sure you take time to recognize and understand your own feelings about the move. If you are the spouse/significant other of the person being relocated, you might have some negative feelings about the move. Kids will pick up on those so deal with how you feel.
2. Watch your words: Be aware of how you are communicating about the move. “We have to move” inadvertently communicates to your kids that this is not your choice and, therefore, can be perceived as negative. On the other hand, something like “We get to…” implies this is a choice that, while difficult in the short term, is going to turn into a really positive thing.
3. Find the good within the bad: Try to think of the benefits rather than the drawbacks. Help your kids do the same.
For some general ideas on using your brain to change your attitude, click here.
No parent should move without a written game plan to help your children deal with the difficulties they face when moving. For more information, contact your local participating Real Estate Agent for more information about the Moving Families Initiative.
For more information about the Moving Families Initative, please visit www.movingfamiliesinitiative.com.