Dear M @Nurturance,
My husband was recently offered a job in a different state. This would be a wonderful opportunity for him and while I am so proud of him, I worry about our kids who are in fifth and third grade. They really don’t want to move, and I can understand that. My friends keep telling me that kids are resilient and that they will get over it, but I’m not even sure what that means. For me it comes down to this: which is worse? Transferring them to a new school/neighborhood/state in the middle of the school year or living apart from my husband for six months? What do you recommend?
Congratulations to your husband on his new job! I am sure you have gone over the pros and cons in your minds countless times about moving vs staying put as well as the timing. Having a long-term, objective perspective on a big decision like this is key. Unfortunately, long term planning, delayed gratification and objective analysis are not skills that elementary children typically possess. Your children need the following:
First and foremost your children need a strong connection to you and your nuclear family as a whole. Ideally this is something that should already be in place from the time they were infants. They need your listening ear and attentive responses.
Children also need permission to feel the big feelings they have, and right now those feelings are likely negative. They need time and space to process and opportunities to express those feelings both to you and to others. Keep in mind that you had advance notice in processing your thoughts and reactions regarding the move before you told them. Now they need time and space to work through their feelings as well.
Your children will have questions. Let them ask the questions and be honest in your answers. It’s ok to say, “I don’t know.”
Children need to say goodbye to the people and places that are important to them. Make a plan to visit special locations and to connect with people. Create ways of staying in touch via mail, email, social media etc.
As you take the long view, do not be discouraged when your children exhibit sadness and anger. They may seek out other friends or trusted adults to share these feelings with.
The best time for you to move will depend on what you and your husband can agree on as best for your family.
Resilience is defined as the ability to recover, or bounce back from adversity and tough situations. While most children demonstrate some degree of resilience, some seem to have more than others. Recent research has shown that there are several key factors in the development of resilience that help children thrive despite experiencing hardship. These “resilience enhancers” include:
- A strong relationship with caring adults that includes responsive interactions
- A healthy sense of self regulation, control and competence
- Connection to community
As parents, you can help your children thrive and develop resilience as you listen, respond, love and support your children through difficult times and good times.
For more information on resilience, please read here.
For more about moving with children, read this.
Best wishes to you and your family!