Moving with Family Guide: Teenagers and Your Move


Teenagers have a full time job just coping with being a teenager. Adding the stress of moving can be overwhelming. Teenagers are navigating through a complicated time of physical and emotional changes. They will be hesitant to move away from the sense of security their home and friends provide. Teenagers will be focused on the motion of moving, which to them means losing their friends. At this point your children will have made strong friendships, so be gentle with them, however hard it may seem.

Tips for helping teens cope:
  • Communication: Explain to your teen why you are moving and how the family benefits from moving.

  • Involvement: Keep your teens involved by asking them to do some research on the new city and report the findings back to you. Encourage them to find out about clubs or groups that share similar hobbies and interests.

  • Empathy: Let your children know that you understand the inner turmoil they are going through. No matter how stressful the move is for you, make sure you have time for them. You should never be too busy for your teen during this time.

  • Choices: If you can, give your teen a choice on when to move. Some prefer a move during the holidays so they can start the next term fresh in the new school. Others prefer to move mid-term so that they can immediately begin a school routine. Giving your teens a choice will help them feel in control of their lives and the move.

  • Goodbyes: Encourage your children to say goodbye to their friends. They may not want to because they think it will make it worse, but saying goodbye and having closure is a very healthy process. Encourage your teens to get phone numbers and email addresses of their friends and encourage them to stay in touch after the move.

  • Plan a trip: After the move you might want to plan a trip back to the old city. You could also bring some of your teenager’s old friends to stay with you for a vacation. Looking forward to these things could make the transition easier for your teen.

Most teenagers will go through patterns of complaining when they hear of the impending move. This is normal and it will be important to be patient with them. Unfortunately, some teenagers will flat out refuse to move. If you have a teen that does not wish to move, it is very important that you talk with your teen to understand why. Teens often have very valid reasons, such as finishing out the school year, graduating with their class, or staying with an athletic team. They may also have a course that they wish to continue or they may simply want to remain with friends.

Work with your teen to understand all the issues and all the options. Consider letting your teen stay with trusted family friends until the school year is over. Your teen may prefer to finish out the school year or graduate high school before joining the family. If you are willing to work with your teen then your teen will need to work with you as well. Be frank in your discussion and ask practical questions, such as where they would live and who would pay for the food and utility bills. There is a good chance that teens will change their minds after trying to answer these questions. No matter what the result, your teen will be happy to have taken part in this major decision.