Jim Daly – Kids May Feel a Lot of Stress About Sudden Move

Written by: Jim Daly

Q: It looks like my husband will be getting a job transfer, which means that we’re probably relocating soon. How can we help our kids adjust to the move?

Jim: Relocating has a huge impact on children. It’s a significant life change that, for many kids, can be almost as stressful as losing someone to death. A child’s sense of loss often goes deeper than parents realize. They may struggle with anxiety about losing familiar surroundings, like their room, or have trouble leaving friends behind. And some children may even feel angry with their parents for forcing such a drastic life change upon them.

First of all, if your move occurs during the summer, help your kids find social connections before the next school year gets under way. Plug them into a church group, a sports league or a youth organization as soon as possible. The faster they develop some relationships, the sooner they’ll settle in and feel comfortable with their new surroundings.

On the emotional front, don’t play down the changes they’re going through. The generic “everything will work out” probably isn’t the best approach. Encourage them to express their fears and concerns openly and honestly. And whatever you do, don’t deny or minimize what they share. That will only increase their sense of isolation and frustration.

Also, remember that it’s normal for some children to experience a temporary regression in behavior after a move. They may act unusually agitated or irritable, or you may even see a drop in their grades. Keep a close eye on them, but don’t panic. They likely just need some time and space. But bear in mind that they probably won’t adjust to their new situation overnight. It could take a few weeks — or for some kids, several months. So be patient and understanding, but take heart: Life will eventually normalize again.

Q: Our youngest child is heading off to college this fall, and my wife and I will be empty nesters. We know of other couples in our position that even divorced. How can we handle this transition?

Dr. Greg Smalley, Vice President, Family Ministries: You’re wise to think about a life-altering transition of this magnitude before it happens. Your marriage can thrive after the kids leave home if you and your spouse are willing to make it happen. Among other things, this means constantly working on your communication skills, and committing that both of you have a voice in decisions. It’s also a matter of putting forth an intentional effort to date each other on a regular basis.

Start by sitting down (or getting away) with your spouse. Acknowledge that the “empty nest” is coming, and discuss your expectations for the post-parenting years. Conduct a thorough inventory of your marriage. Take stock of the methods and strategies you use to confront interpersonal conflicts and challenges. Look for patterns that might become problematic when there’s no one else around to act as a buffer between you. Strip away the layers of busyness and outward activity that go along with raising children and let your marriage stand on its own merits.

You should also be aware of, and honest about, your temperaments and personality types. Talk about how each of you interacts with the rest of the family. If there’s some baggage in those areas, professional counseling is a must if you want to preserve and revitalize your relationship during the empty nest years.

The goal is to rediscover what attracted you to each other in the first place and find new ways to fan the flames of romance. It’s a tougher assignment for some couples than for others, but it can definitely be done — and you’re on the right track.

Jim Daly is a husband and father, an author, and president of Focus on the Family and host of the Focus on the Family radio program. Catch up with him at www.jimdalyblog.com or at www.facebook.com/DalyFocus.





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Jim Daly

Kids May Feel a Lot of Stress About Sudden Move


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