Expat Planning: Moving Your Family-Part 2

by | Apr 27, 2022 | Global | 1 comment

Part 1 of this hopefully enlightening series dealt with the reasons why you are thinking of moving. We established the importance of having good reasons for the move and working to get the buy-in of your family.

Part 2 is about the move and its impact on your kids. Yes, those blessed little humans that make life worth living…most days! So, what can we talk about regarding the kids? Lots! Age matters and knowing the temperament of your children is critical.

So before I get into this, let me be clear that the comments you are about to read are a product of my vast and varied life experience, not a 40-year, double-blind, longitudinal scientific study in pediatric psychology from an Ivy League school. (hmm, that’s a run-on sentence) But life experiences are what we easily relate to, so…here goes!

Age Matters

The age of your kids is important. Babies and toddlers won’t usually provide you with

Feeling a little foreign
Feeling a little foreign

copious amounts of knee-high drama, but that does not mean that the move does not affect them. So keep an eye on them and address any behavioral changes with time and love. They’ll be just fine.

Now the next group is your elementary-aged kids. A little tougher. They have to deal not only with leaving people that they know but leaving a classroom of kids they know. This part will be easier for home-schooled kids. Being the new kid in school can be a challenge, of course. This is what the ”knowing the temperament of your children is critical” comment about references.

I have two kids. One of them would not be bothered in the least by going to a new school every year. The other gets concerned when the class has a substitute teacher. Just two different temperaments.

We solved our issue by moving when my “worrier” was leaving elementary school and going to middle school. Why? Because a change was going to have to be made anyway, so the timing worked out for us. So, the point, you ask? Well…just think it through. You know your family. Make sure the kids understand your reasons why. Don’t doubt that they can.

The Older Ones

So we leave the best for last– middle and high school-aged kids. Here is where smooth, easy transitions can exist or where Tony Award meriting dramatic performances are enacted, complete with lots of sounds, crossed arms, and pouty faces.

Surly, you jest
Surly, you jest

So, my sage advice? Make sure that your tweens and teens understand the reasons why and can talk to you about their feelings and concerns.

The key here goes back to Part 1, where I originated my broken record phrase, ”knowing the temperament of your children is critical.”

Also, know that kids have this social and educational institution called “school” that can actually help them transition. If you choose to send them to a public or private school in your new country, take a minute to choose well. The biggest barrier to address is language and culture.

Yet, oftentimes, those two items can best reasons to bring your kids to a new country. It is an education unto itself.

The Good News

The good news is that kids can pick that up quickly. Adults usually have a harder time. Pay attention to this, it is important. Work hard and fast to embrace a new life, while not discrediting the old.

United we stand
United we stand

The kids might resent that and step up the whole resistance business. Parents need to be a force of one in this respect. Any challenges you are having due to the move do your best to keep it between the two of you and work as a family to succeed.

Reasonable? I hope so. Yet know that the degree of ease of the move lies squarely on the shoulders of united parents and, yes, have sound and acceptable reasons why the move is taking place.

Yeah, just can’t get away from that reality.

Speaking of “united parents”, what about mommy and daddy? This unity we speak of cannot be a sham, it has to be the real deal.

So…how do you get there and stay there? Part 3 in this series will tackle that issue.

Please let us know about your experiences with moving your kids–we want to hear all about them.

by: Darrell Forte