Moving: It’s Tough for Teens
My husband was offered a wonderful opportunity with his company. We prayed about it and decided it would be a great career move for him that would benefit our family as well. The only problem…two teenagers and a pre-teen, moving a state away from their friends since elementary school and the only home they’ve ever known.
We knew they would be upset about the change but had no idea how deeply affected they would be. After all, we were moving to Central Florida, home to Disney, The Happiest Place on Earth, right? They would love it once they realized we were less than 40 minutes from Mickey and The Magic Kingdom. They would’ve been just fine if all their friends were moving with us. Kids, high schoolers especially, are all about the friends.
My husband and I were shocked by how much anger our boys had toward us. Well, mostly toward my husband since it was his choice to take the new job. Leaving their group of friends that knew them and accepted them ended up affecting them more physically and emotionally than we were prepared for. There was also a lot of feelings that were hidden and not spoken about…we didn’t learn about this until later. One of our boys kept a smile on his face while suffering on the inside.
Have you moved recently? or Are you moving soon? Let me encourage you a bit…it took awhile–almost a year and two months of me praying and begging God to make it ok for my boys. And then, all at once…it was ok. Here are five things to help ease the pain (somewhat) of the move with your teens.
#1 Expect Anger
Anger is a normal and natural reaction to change. Not only is change difficult for adults even as we’re able to see the big picture but imagine how much harder it is for the kids to comprehend. Let your teenager yell and shout and slam doors. It’s ok–it helps them heal.
#2 Talk About The Changes
Be sure to let your teen know your feelings about the move. Leaving my mom and dad behind was tough for me and I would miss them very much. I didn’t hide it from my boys, but let them know that I was sad about moving away from my parents. I also let them know I had some anxiety about living in a new state and meeting new people. Your kids want to know you’re real and that you experience some of the same feelings they do.
Set aside regular times to talk about how everyone is dealing with the move. Dinnertime, once every week or so, is a great time to talk about any fears or anxieties they may have. And also a great time for naming the progress made on making friends, or finding new places to visit.
#3 Provide New Opportunities
Helping your teens to get set up in a new home and community is an enormous task. But they’re worth it. They do need our help. Before we actually moved from Georgia to Florida, I joined a Homeschool group on Facebook to connect with other moms and families that we would be living close to in our new home. I put out a post saying we were moving in November, had three boys, and would love to meet somewhere fun. One mom, a very close friend of mine now, responded saying she had three boys and lived near where we were moving. We met up for bowling after moving here. The boys hit it off and we’ve all been friends since.
I also joined a homeschool co-op that meets up for field trips, volunteer opportunities, and high school/middle school hangouts. My boys were reluctant to participate at first. I had to do some major bribing and pushing to get them to go. After a couple events, they felt more comfortable and wanted to go.
#4 Let Them Pick Their Room
Allowing them to have some control over their surroundings helped in the transition our boys. We offered to paint their rooms with colors of their choosing, but they were fine with what was already there. My youngest helped pick out a new loft bed and chose where it would go. Buying new furniture doesn’t always make the difference though. We constructed my oldest son’s desk from his old room’s door (complete with his life’s sticker collection) and two file cabinets we purchased. His Xbox cords fit neatly through the cut-out where the door knob goes. My son is able to have part of his childhood in his new home! I love sharing this story and showing it to friends and family visiting our home.
#5 Let Them Visit Home Often
I’m a firm believer in letting your kids keep in touch and visit friends and family back home as much as they need to for awhile. We moved during the school year and I made sure my boys knew that we would be traveling back to be there for special events. This allowed them to realize that we weren’t trying to change their entire life around. We talked often about growing their circle of friends–new friends in Florida and old friends in Georgia. Some of my family worried the trips back home were making it more difficult for them to adjust to their new life. But I do know now that it was for the best. As they became more involved in our new community, they were less excited to drive all the way back to their old one.
Moving is a frightening and traumatic experience for pre-teens and teens. These ideas are not guaranteed to fix everything but some that helped our family. I pray they will give you some insight into how your teenagers may be affected and provide some help to you.
Have you moved with pre-teens and teens in the past? Please share in the comment section what helped your family during that time?