We occasionally lose sight of what we truly want out of life in our efforts to better ourselves and our families. It’s true that there are some socioeconomic barriers in our society today, and getting past them is extremely difficult. In order to better deal with them and accomplish the objectives we set for ourselves, we occasionally need to move. But when those moves are necessary, it is crucial to think about how moving will affect each member of the family, especially the adolescent child.
Moving with a family can be a very traumatic experience, especially for young adolescents and teens who have just started to form their own social network. Many times, as parents, we fail to fully consider the impact that moving to a new city, town, or even just a new part of town will have on our teenagers’ or children’s near-adolescent children’s developing psyches. Instead, we frequently focus on the overall picture while keeping our objectives and aspirations in mind. I don’t think having goals is a bad thing, but when it comes to moving a family, those goals should be weighed against the interests of everyone, especially the kids.
Making decisions without considering an adolescent or teen’s need for social interaction could have disastrous results, including shattering your life’s goals and severely deteriorating or destroying your relationship with your children.
The lives of our children are intricately entwined in the high-tech society of today, not only in the electronic social networking of an online culture, but also in the very fabric of real interpersonal relationships, some of which can be very delicate.
Because kids can stay in touch with their friends online, it may seem to parents that intervening with them won’t have much of an impact. Farther from the truth than most things are. In this new era of social networking, adolescents seem to need a very complex social interaction that includes both electronic collaboration and other forms as well.
Let’s face it, not every parent is a superhero. Although we’d like to, the truth is that we’re lucky to maintain a largely harmonious working relationship with our children. If you are a parent who knows all of your children’s friends by sight and by first name and has a full and open relationship with them, consider yourself extremely fortunate. A blessing you richly deserve because such a relationship would never be possible without the deliberate and loving dedication of a lot of time and effort.
The fact that parents typically know far less about their children’s social activities than they would like to believe is what makes this topic so crucially important. Now that we are armed with that unwelcome knowledge, we need to reevaluate how we talk to our children when it comes time to think about packing up the family and moving to a new location.
Notice I said “when its time to consider” packing up. If you are foolish enough to believe that making the “move decision” and then letting your kids know about it is the way to go, then you obviously don’t have any kind of relationship with your children at all. I think it’s also safe to say that this kind of strategy might result in one of those aforementioned situations where dreams crumble and family relationships are irreparably harmed.
You’ll probably find that the relocation process is made up of the easiest parts—packing and moving—when you actually move. The real challenge is getting your family—especially your children—to feel at ease with the move. It is something that needs to be done with extreme caution and consideration for other people’s feelings. Don’t misunderstand me; I’m not advocating a system where everyone has an equal say or a vote, just that everyone should be given the chance to express their thoughts.
I’m not even sure I can provide anyone with an appropriate, step-by-step manual on how to handle the delicate matter of getting children and teenagers ready to move. The circumstances of each person will vary greatly. I can say with absolute certainty that if you involve them in the process, everything will go much more smoothly and with much less stress and heartache.
It might be a good idea to first conduct a private assessment of your interpersonal interactions with your adolescent or teen to obtain at least a baseline viewpoint from which to begin. How well-versed in your child’s social life are you? Do you genuinely know their closest friends, confidantes, and listeners? Ideally, it would be you, but as we all know from our own experiences, the world isn’t always perfect. How much information do your children share with you about their opinions? Do we actually give them a chance to express their thoughts or have a say? If not, perhaps it’s time to reconsider how we interact with our kids.
I understand that right before moving isn’t the ideal time to try to mend fences with our kids, but hey, what better reason could you have, and by way of necessity there may never be a better time. Most kids want parents they can be honest with, but we parents frequently lack the communication skills required to effectively interact with our kids. Ask your children for suggestions on how to communicate with them; don’t be afraid to do so. With what they have to say, they might as well surprise you, and you never know, you might even learn something.
It’s important to listen, I’ll say that again… listening is key. When was the last time you truly, as you would with a friend, listened to your children? As parents who are trying to balance working a job, caring for a home, and making sure the bills are paid, we have a tendency to listen only half-heartedly. Instead of listening to our children for their benefit or enjoyment, we listen to hear any telltale signs of potential problems that may require our intervention. searching through the conversations for anything that might be cause for concern.
We frequently use the justification that we are protecting our children in the wake of 9/11, never giving much thought to the information that gets lost in the shuffle of our busy lives. Our children are aware that this kind of listening doesn’t promote the development of strong interpersonal relationships. Because we live in the information age, adolescents and teens today are more socially aware and astute than any generation of their age has ever been. Don’t fool yourself; children are aware of whether or not a parent is paying attention, and they quickly pick up on how to manipulate conversations with non-paying parents. The division of the generations officially starts at this point.
I genuinely think that developing a listening relationship is the one strategy that has the best chance of aiding you in assisting your adolescents or teens in preparing for relocation. Give their opinions the same weight as you would give any other adult’s. This one requires authenticity; you cannot pass it off as such. I didn’t say you had to agree with what they had to say, but you do have to give importance to everything they had to say and everything they were willing to confide in you about. The rest of the issues that moving will present to you will seem insignificant in comparison if you can handle this one thing. There is no better way to develop the bond with your children that you have always desired, even if you are not planning on moving anytime soon. However, you, the parent or friend, must be the one to start.