The stereotype that teenagers will resist anything their parents suggest might never ring truer than when you announce that the family will be moving. By this point in their lives, teenagers have established peer groups, identified their favorite places to hang out, and built a reputation at their school. Moving to a new city means a whole new beginning… and figuring out who they are all over again.
Even though they may be acting cranky and rude, it’s important to have some compassion for your teens and do what you can to help ease the transition. Here are a few ways you can support them in transitioning during this challenging time of growing up.
Have as many open conversations as possible
Chances are your teen has lots of questions about the move: why are you moving? What’s the new neighborhood like? What school will they be attending, and do they have any say in that choice? Even though they may be frustrated or upset, offering them ample room to talk about the move — including permission to voice their anger or worries — will help you to stay connected as a family, and help them to know you’re there to support them.
Let them throw a going away party
Most teens love parties, right? Give your kid the choice to throw a Going Away Party before you depart, to say goodbye to their friends. If you’re moving particularly far away, invite your teen’s friends to bring photos or mementos of the good times together — or even have your own in-home photo booth so your teen can depart with a collection of photos with their favorite people.
Get them involved in house hunting and home decoration
Though they only have so much say in choosing a house, getting their input and opinions can help them to feel like they’re an active part of the decision rather than a victim of circumstance. They are at an age where the feeling in control of their life is incredibly important, and a move can threaten that sense of autonomy. Let them have a choice wherever possible: what color should their room be? Do they want to ride the bus to their new school, or would they prefer to get a ride? What do they want to take, and what are they ready to leave behind?
After the move, help them get settled immediately
Set up their room, bring them to get signed up for school, and start taking active steps to integrate them into the community. Offer to sign them up for clubs or classes — art, sports, yoga, anything that speaks to them — so they can start to meet other kids and de-stress after the move. Support them to get out of the house and explore your new city and do your best to trust their judgment and sense of self. You know them best: pay attention, and do what you can to help your kid adjust to a new place.
Remind them it’s ok to have a tough time settling
Again: communication is key. Many teenagers struggle with emotional rollercoasters even without a big move, so the transition may bring up a lot of anxiety, insecurity, or other ups and downs. Let them have time to do their own processing, but offer them support and encourage them to talk about their feelings. If it seems like your teen is having a particularly hard time, offer to help them find someone to talk to who can help to ease the process of change.