There’s a lot to think about when you’re moving overseas with children, from what to pack to finding new schools. And, while you’ll find plenty of information online about what to pack in your child’s carry-on luggage, there’s less said about how to prepare them emotionally for the major life event of moving abroad. Here are a few suggestions to help smooth what can be an otherwise bumpy road.
Involve Them In The Process
As parents, we often want to take on all of the mental load of these big family decisions, presenting a final decision to our children that’s tied neatly with a bow. However, there’s no harm in involving your kids in the process throughout, as long as you’re careful not to overwhelm them with too much information.
Showing your kids listings of properties you’re looking at, or asking them to research which takeaway you should have on your first night in your new home, all helps them to feel more part of the process.
Keep Communication Open
We all want to know that our kids would come to us if there was something on their mind, but we don’t always have clear channels to facilitate this kind of communication. A weekly family meeting where everyone checks in about how they’re feeling can ensure that everyone has a chance to have their voices heard.
Demonstrate honesty and openness with your children by taking an active part in this process, talking about some of your own worries, as well as the things you’re looking forward to.
Facilitate Old Friendships
Until your children make new friends in their destination country, they’ll likely still cling to the ones they’ve left behind. Facilitate these relationships as best you can as, particularly for teens, they’ll feel like a lifeline back to the certainty and comfort of home.
Depending on your financial situation, this could mean allowing friends to come and visit you for a holiday, or might mean allowing a few late-night online gaming sessions when time zones are a factor. Just don’t underestimate the importance of these friendships to your teen or tween, “ripping off the bandaid” is rarely the answer.
Acknowledge The Bad Bits
As the reasonable adults that we are, it’s important to be able to acknowledge that there are downsides to moving overseas. Every negative doesn’t need to be met with a positive, nor does it need to be explained away. Sometimes, it’s healthy to be able to just hold your hands up and say, yes, that sucks.
This comes back to having open and honest communication with your kids and allowing them to vent their frustrations as and when they come up (and they will come up). Don’t feel you have to “fix”, sometimes simply acknowledging that your kid is finding things hard is enough.
Most parents choose to move their family to a new country because they believe it will offer a better quality of life for their children. We won’t always be thanked for making this hard decision, but with open communication and a supportive home environment, you can help to make the transition easier on every member of your family, yourself included.
Sarah Todhunter is a writer, mother-of-two and a dual citizen of New Zealand and the UK. As the sole proprietor of Fyxen Copywriters, she has navigated the ups and downs of moving a business and family across hemispheres, sharing the lessons she’s learned along the way. Find her on LinkedIn or anywhere good coffee is served.