Many families simply refuse to relocate with teenagers, particularly if the teens are doing well in school, have appropriate friends, and seem happy and well-adjusted. Sometimes, however, families just don’t have a choice about relocation. In these cases, the key is to minimize whatever damage the move could cause and to maximize any potential up-sides of the move.Teenagers are budding adults. Many of them hold part-time jobs and go to school. They are developing their own life competencies and skills. What better time to give them a hands-on real life experience than a family move? Enlist their assistance. Get them involved. Teens are often more comfortable with the on-line world than their parents are. The family can draw up a list of questions or concerns about the new location. Then the teens in the family can be assigned to research those concerns on line. They can easily download information on getting new driver’s licenses, which counties have which property taxes, which school systems are rated the best, and even neighborhood or area statistics for the new location.
It’s hard for your teenagers to remain alienated or uninvolved when they have such significant work to do for the family. Teenagers (and even pre-teens) can be put in charge of the moving sale the family will inevitably have (for a fair share of the profits, of course!) Again, involving teens in the family project that a move really is will only keep them more involved and invested in the family’s successful move. Teens should be able to make their own decisions about what to keep, sell, and donate. They should even be part of the family discussion with various realtors.
Once a realtor is chosen, there is no reason why teenagers should not participate in the necessary house fix-up projects the realtor recommends. And they will be far more cooperative in this part of the sales strategy if you and the realtor do a good job of explaining how much better the house will show and sell with some TLC applied. What differences in family life-style might be part of a move? Will both parents be working at the new location? Will the family be able to afford a home with a pool, perhaps? Will brothers who until now have shared a room be able to each have his own room? Will the new home be near professional sports venues which might be of particular interest to teenagers? Again, the key is to involve your teenagers, and preteens, in making the move an interesting time rather than only a sad or stressful time.
It’s also a good idea to encourage any of your children to find ways to maintain bonds with especially good friends they are leaving behind. It may be appropriate for you, or even for another local family member or friend, to host a going away party of some kind. Friends could be encouraged to bring goofy, inexpensive gifts to reflect their favorite times with your child. In some cases where very close relationships are enjoyed between whole families, consider planning a reunion of sorts several months down the road. Your teens can show their old friends around their new stomping grounds, just like you will with their parents. Many times, we don’t choose to relocate.
Relocation is often a function of transfer, or even illness or job loss, and is therefore inherently stressful. People feel they have little controls over such moves. But by pulling together as a family and involving your children, particularly teenagers, some of that sense of control can be regained, and some positive life-skills can be learned. The move becomes more of an adventure than a disaster, and everyone will accept it more readily and adjust to it more smoothly.