My family and I recently moved from a city of 600,000 to a town of 900, and we’ve done it without our 6-year-old son – the oldest – ever complaining. From the moment he learned he was moving to today, he seems to have enjoyed every step.
I’m sure it’s far more difficult to move with teenagers, but I also know that my son lost all his old friends and made a whole bunch of new ones – and that’s not easy to do for any age.
So what was our “secret”?
Here are a few steps we took that helped us and could help you, too, if you’re moving or relocating:
1. Include your kids in the house hunt. We were excited about moving to a new home and wanted our son to be that way, too, so we took him along with us, letting him see all the potential houses. He loved it, and it was educational. We didn’t include him on every expedition, but we did it enough that he began looking forward to what his new home would look like.
2. Let your kids help with the actual move. When we began integrating our oldest son into the actual move – even though it slowed us down a bit – he got excited. He packed boxes, moved boxes, used the dolly and even loaded items on the big truck … all (mostly) with a smile.
3. Emphasize the positive. No matter the situation, you’re going to be moving away from something you’ll miss. To combat those emotions – for ourselves as well as for our son – we chose to stress the positive. For instance, we were moving from an area with a big zoo to one with a smaller zoo … but that smaller zoo had a train! We were losing what was our son’s favorite science museum … but we were gaining three better museums and an IMAX. We would no longer be able to hike around our favorite lake … but we were getting access to a paved bike trail more than 70 miles long. And the deer in our new town – I kept telling my son – were bigger! (They’re corn-fed, after all.)
4. Get involved in your new community, immediately. Before we even arrived in our new city, we were scouting online for new churches. I listened to the prospective pastor’s sermons on the Internet, and we visited that church our very Sunday at our new home – and never went anywhere else. The church members were very welcoming, and our son quickly made friends. He even began practicing for an upcoming children’s program. Soon, he was talking often about his new friends with only a rare mention of his old ones. Outside of the church setting, we also attended community events – likely the kind that many locals don’t even consider attending. But we had a blast.
5. Allow for grieving. It’s biblical to grieve, and we shouldn’t avoid it. Our son occasionally gets sad about missing our former neighbor’s dog, so we talk about all the fun times we had there. When he gets sad about missing his former best friend, so we tell him that we should write her. Usually, he’s only down for a few minutes and then he’s happy again.
6. Point to the seasons. I tell my son that life is like the seasons. God gives us beautiful warm weather in the summer, but then autumn arrives and we get to enjoy cool breezes, wonderful colors and falling leaves. Then winter arrives, and then spring. Each is wonderful, unique and fun – but they don’t last forever. It’s the same with life. Our former city was fun and we made lots of great memories there, but our new one is great, too, and we’ll make just as many wonderful memories here.
Kids can adjust far better than we give them credit. Two months after we landed at our new house, our oldest son celebrated a new birthday. What did he want on his cake? A picture of his new state – complete with the river he sees every day. He’s even cheering for the local sports teams. Yes, he’s adjusting to the move just fine.
Michael Foust is an editor and writer who blogs about parenting and fatherhood. He loves his family and also really likes popcorn. Interested in re-posting this in your publication or on your blog for free? Send me a message in the comments section below (the message won’t go public).
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