Moving With Teens

Moving with Teenagers in Tow is a Challenge, but All You Need is a Little Preparation and Some Patience

Getting your teenager out of bed in the morning can be an exhausting drama. So how on earth are you going to get them to leave their friends, their school and the only home they’ve ever known? The answer: not easily. But with the right mix of sympathy, patience and cajoling it doesn’t have to be a disaster.

Why Teens Have More Trouble

Relocation is hard on adults and kids. But for teenagers the transition is tougher. Teens confront a host of social and psychological issues that younger children and adults don’t. Thus they’re probably going to be much more reluctant to go along with a move and much more vocal about their objections.

When your teen hears that they have to move, the first thing they’re likely to think is that moving will separate them from their friends. During junior high and high school, adolescents put a tremendous amount of time and energy into finding just the right peer groups. Even if it seems that they have a new best friend every month, the process of reaching out to other teens and learning how to socialize consumes an inordinate amount of their energy (and, when the phone bill comes, your income). Through this laborious process of “fitting in” teens are forming their own identity. Especially if they don’t have much experience with relocating, teens define themselves by who their friends are, where they hang out and what they do for fun. It shouldn’t be much of a surprise, then, that teens get very upset when they hear they have to leave all of the above behind. By having to adjust to an entirely new town, school and social scene teens have to go through the awkward process of fitting in all over again.

There are a host of other reasons that relocation gets under you teen’s skin. Teens crave predictability. During adolescence everything is changing: their voice, their clothes, their responsibilities.  

Against that backdrop, having a stable, familiar home and social life makes a real difference. Moving throws this all into flux. Teenagers also like to think of themselves as adults. When mom or dad tells them the family is moving and that’s that, teenagers feel, quite acutely, how far they actually are from full adulthood.

As melodramatic as teenage angst may seem, ignoring or minimizing the real difficulties that moving presents to teenagers only makes them worse. To help your teens make the transition as smoothly as possible, parents have to know when and how to intervene and when to back off.

What You Can (and Can't) Do

If your teenager is incessantly whining, trying to talk you out of moving or just stomping around the house slamming doors, it’s easy for you to get frustrated with their reactions. The most important thing you can do, however, is engage their concerns and feelings. Like most problems teenagers confront, simply listening to them – without trying to argue or make a point – can do a world of good.

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