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Moving: problems when kids object.

In this increasingly mobile society, some people are passing up promotions for the sake of family stability. However, when the choice is staying in a job that is hated or missing out on a major career advancement, what is a parent to do when the kids object to moving? The best thing is to communicate with them, according to Wanda Draper, a child development specialist at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center.

An adamant refusal to go along, particularly by teenagers, is a normal response, she points out. Parents need to recognize this and have the patience to wait out the storm. "Children are very resilient and they'll bounce back. They may think they'll never have any friends as wonderful as the ones they're leaving behind, but they will soon find some every bit as wonderful."

Change--at any age--is difficult. Sharing parental fears and anxieties about moving helps youngsters realize they aren't the only ones who are frightened. "It's important to invite adolescents, especially, to talk about their concerns. Also, by empathizing with them, you are letting them know that you're truly concerned. If the child has an outburst or walks out of the room, you'll know it's going to take some time to work through this." Even if the children don't want to move, the parents must reach a decision. "They still are responsible for making a living and providing for the well-being of the entire family."

Ideally, adolescents need to be told about an impending move at least a month before it occurs. They should be given time to accept the situation. Younger children require at least a week's notice. The latter usually make the transition with relatively little pain. Taking youngsters shopping for a cuddly toy provides a "transitional" object for them to bring into the new community and often solves the problem. Most families, however, won't be able to appease teenagers by giving them a new car. "That's buying them off and it sets a precedent for... every time something difficult arises." Instead of bribing teenagers with something materialistic, it would be better to travel to the new town and try to meet teachers, co-workers and their families, and others who will become important in the new setting.

Moving is an emotional experience for everyone involved, no matter how many times the family has moved before. "Everybody is leaving people they love and moving into a new situation. Working through the pain adds strength to the family, even though the parents may feel--at least temporarily--as if the whole family is falling apart."
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Publication:USA Today (Magazine)
Date:Apr 1, 1993
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