If you are moving with children, you know that moving is seldom fun or easy in the best of situations, and it can be especially troubling for the children. It is helpful, however, when parents deal with their children’s concerns and needs thoughtfully, and the good news is… benefit is paid back from the stress and discomfort that is avoided.
Children see moves differently than their parents, and they benefit much less from the change in their comfortable routines, or so it seems at the time. For all too many, a move from the family home involves tremendous, difficult decisions and it is easy to forget how the move will impact our loved ones.
In today’s economy, a move could involve downsizing due to financial hardship, on the other hand, often, a change in houses or communities heralds an important step forward for the adult members of the family, through job promotion.
In either scenario, a move can petrify your child. It is important to consider…
Mobile and hard striving people typically lived in a house for about four years and then move on as their careers or fortunes allow. That short time span is only a small percentage of the life-to-date for a 30 or 40 year old, but the same four years is half the life-time of an 8 year old, and it includes almost all the years he or she can remember.
To a parent, this house may be only the place they have lived recently. They think of it as a way station on the road of life. To kids, however, it may be the only home they have ever really known. This is their house, the place they feel safe and comfortable and thoroughly at home.
A house is much more than a roof and walls to a child. It is the center of his or her world. A move threatens to take that sphere away and leave something totally strange in its place. The familiar friends, schools, grocery stores, the streets, trees and parks – all will no longer exist for them.
Everything soon will be strange, and they will live in someone else’s world. The impact of a move on a typical child starts about the time he or she first hears that Daddy has accepted a promotion, and often continues for about a year, until the new house becomes home, and memories of the previous place fade.
It’s not necessary to announce the big change to children immediately, although they must hear about it from you before someone else breaks the news. Most teenagers see themselves as adult members of the family, and will betrayed if they don’t hear everything from the parents. But it is probably not a good idea to tell toddlers and preschoolers until they have to know. There is no point in making them worry far in advance.
Be sure to announce the move in a positive manner. You might say how proud you are that Daddy’s company has chosen him out of many other employees to manage a new office in Seattle. Talk about what a beautiful city Seattle is, how good the schools are and how nice the people are.
Tell positive, truthful stories about how nice the new house will be. Ask them what the favorite things are in their lives now, and then try to make them happen in the new home.