It is not unusual at this time of year for some families to be thinking about where they will next find themselves living. It can be worrying and exciting both rolled in to one. For some families it is ‘going back home’, wherever that may be; whilst for others it may be moving on to a new location…..the unknown. Either way what is guaranteed is that there is so much to consider that it can be all too easy to forget about talking to our children…more often than not we assume that they will just be okay with it – after all, we all know that kids are resilient and just bounce back…right?
I meet with many parents in and out of school and an area that often comes up is this very topic – moving time…the big transition to a new home/country/school, back to a previous school, back to family, moving further away from family and friends, life without the Ayi….the list can go on….but here are a few things to consider when talking to your little ones and older ones too.
- First of all DO remember to talk about the move…even if your child has not raised the topic, find a time when ears are open (maybe at dinner time) and just start the conversation…perhaps something like “I have been wondering what it is going to be like when we move.” See what happens…..let them know that you also have questions and uncertainties, that you will miss the friends you have made in Beijing, that you are looking forward to the change. Research ahead of time where you are going, allow your children to make some choices too, encourage them to pack something personal in the luggage so that it is there when they reach their new home – shipments can take many months to arrive.
- Consider life in a new school: will it be the same size; have a uniform; have as many ASA’s on offer; include a swimming pool; have a school counsellor to drop in to; teach in a language that your child understands; have a different curriculum; run on the same days/hours as now; require a bus journey or a short walk to school; allow you to bring your own lunch? I am sure you may think of many other possibilities too.
- Will you have an Ayi, Driver, childcare? These are the extras that can be taken for granted and easy to adjust too, will your new location still offer this and if not what impact will that have on everyone? Does it mean everyone having to do a little more around the home; limitations on who can go where, maybe you have two children currently doing different activities at the same time in different locations – one goes with you and the other with the driver or Ayi; who will do the cooking…ironing…babysitting….school runs….We may know but do our children also realise that the move means change in these areas too?
- Family life…does one parent currently travel a lot for work and spend much time away from the family during the week? Will moving mean that this parent is around more often, or will they have a longer or shorter commute to work each day? Will both parents be working or one at home once you move? Again…talking to our children before this happens means that they have an opportunity to consider the change and ask questions in advance.
- Will there be new opportunities/challenges….time to see the extended family more; walks in the countryside; trips to the ocean; warmer/colder climates all year round; wearing seatbelts in taxis; smaller children having to get used to a car seat; wearing helmets on bicycles/motorbikes; clean air to breathe in each day; driving lessons may even start?
- Some find it useful to do something practical, like make a scrap book of their time in Beijing, keep a journal of how they are feeling (not just when they are sad or lonely but also about when they are experiencing those WOW moments too). Each move is a real loss so the process of grieving takes place. Saying goodbye can hurt.
Talking provides an opportunity to plant a seed. It lets others know that it is okay to feel unsure or over the moon with the thought of moving. Talking says to the other person ‘I am here to listen if you want to talk, I may not fully understand though I will try and I want to support you’. Try to not bombard your child or teenager with questions as this will add additional pressure and prevent them from sharing honestly with you. Let them respond to your thoughts naturally…this encourages them to want to talk to you now and in the future. Encourage the exploration of feelings about the anticipated move: the good-byes; the starting over; the feelings of being the odd one out…
If you or your child wishes to discuss this topic further then feel free to pop in and see me I am located on the 3rd floor close to the library and am in BSB on the following days/times:
Monday: 8am – 4pm
Wednesday: 8am – 12noon
Friday: 8am – 4pm
Or to make an appointment, email me: firstname.lastname@example.org
Secondary School Counsellor for Years 7-13.