We thank Kristin Savage for this beautiful article on how to help teenagers cope with moving overseas.
Teenagers are in a transitional life phase that carries enough difficulties on its own so breaking down news to them that you’re moving seems like a nightmare. It is well known that teenagers and parents usually don’t have the best communication. When you are trying to talk to them calmly about a serious matter it feels like you are dancing in a minefield. They are at a sensitive age and leaving their home and their friends behind is very difficult. While you can’t change the situation as you are doing what’s best for the family, you can try to help them cope with moving overseas.
1. Don’t Just Talk – Listen
As hard as it can be to communicate with a teenager you have to give it your best shot. Be calm and collected for both of you. Allow them to express what troubles them and offer them advice.
State that you may not know exactly how they feel, but you understand that what they are going through is hard. Showing an understanding of their emotions will give them support to open up.
2. Count In Their Wishes
If they want to stay in their old school until prom or they want to spend the summer break with their old friends, try to make that happen. They will be less hostile if you show that you are not a dictator but a democrat.
Work in their desires in the moving plan so they know that you respect their feelings. Of course, this may not always be a possibility but if it is, do your best to come to an agreement about the moving time.
3. Let Them Know When You’ll Have a Return Trip
When you say that you are moving overseas a teenager’s instant thought is that they’ll never see their old friends again. What will decrease the tragic perception of moving away forever is scheduling a return trip.
Tell them the exact time when they’ll get to see their friends. I can be just a short vacation but it will make the move seem less permanent. Knowing the time when they’ll hang around with their old friends again will give them something to look forward to.
4. Explore the New Place
Take them on a trip around your new city to get to know it better. Explore the places that your teenagers enjoy most whether those are the parks of the city center.
The point is to get them familiar with their new surroundings and make them feel more at home. Go hunting for your new favorite shops and coffee houses. It can be a fun adventure and it will take their mind of negative thoughts.
5. Encourage Them to Find a Hobby
The best place to search for new friends is among the people who share your interests. Friendships are very important to teens and if they manage to find new friends, the move won’t be so hard on them.
Help your child find an organization or course that’s related to their hobby. For example, if they like to draw inquire if the organizations for young adults or their school have a course they can attend. The shared interest with people in the class will connect them.
6. Allow Them to Decorate Their Room
Teenager’s room is somewhat like their sacred shrine. That’s where they spend most of their time. Help them get adjusted to the new home by allowing them to decorate their room.
They should pick the wall colors, rearrange the furniture, you can go shopping for décor, etc. “Having a fun little project like room design is a great bonding experience. That’s what helped me the most with my daughter,” says Anna Solace, a writer at Studicus.
7. Remind Them that Technology Will Keep Them Close with Old Friends
In the digital era, you can nourish any long-distant relationship. There are video calls, instant chats, social media, and so on. Remind your teenager that they can still talk to their old friends whenever they want.
They might be scared that their old friends will forget about them if they don’t spend time together. In that care, you should try to explain to them that friends who forget you just because you aren’t physically present at all times aren’t true friends.
Out of any age, the teenage years are the toughest. It is tough on the parent and it is tough on the child. However, you need to do your best to help your teen understand that your move is for the good of all. Help them to adapt to the new environment and do your best to occupy their attention with fun activities.