How can parents help kids adjust to a cross-country move?
They can begin by realizing that a major move can be hard on children. According to Parents magazine, "Toddlers will mourn the loss of their room and the house they've always lived in. School-age children will mourn the loss of their friends and their school. Teenagers, along with mourning all of the above, are likely to feel anger at their parents for a major life change that is beyond their control." With all this mourning going on, mom and dad have to be willing to give their kids some time to grieve. So be patient. Life will eventually return to normal, but you can't expect it to happen overnight.
In her book After the Boxes Are Unpacked, author Susan Miller suggests several ways of helping your kids make the transition as smoothly as possible.
- Don't play down the importance of the changes they're going through. Telling them that "everything will work out" isn't necessarily the best approach.
- Encourage them to express their fears and concerns. If they are too young to verbalize their thoughts, help them. If you have teenagers, ask them to express their feelings. Let them do the talking and make up your mind to be a good listener.
- Whatever you do, don't deny your children's feelings. That will only increase their sense of isolation and frustration.
- Don't feel that you need to shoulder all the blame or justify the move to your kids. It's not up to you to solve all their problems.
- Remember that it's normal for some children to experience a temporary regression in behavior after a move. If you have school-aged kids, you may even see a drop in their grades. If that's the case, don't panic. Give them the time and space they need in order to adjust to the new situation.
If your family makes a move during the summer months, it's important to help your kids find social outlets in your new community prior to the beginning of the school year. Help them get plugged into a church group, a sports league, or a youth organization as soon as possible. If you feel a need to discuss any of these issues with a qualified professional, our staff counselors will be happy to speak with you over the phone.
Just Moved Ministry
Kids and Moving