Every parent dreads the talk. You don’t want to tell your kids you are moving. You can’t stand to see that quivering lip as you explain to your child that her life will be turned upside down. It’s hard and it’s emotional and there will be tears. However, it’s something you need to do and it’s something you need to do as soon as possible. Follow these tips to tell your kids about the move. Remember, this move is for the best, so don’t be too hard on yourself when the tears start flowing.
The Right Time to Tell Your Kids About the Move
The right time to tell your kids is as soon as you can. Unfortunately, “as soon as you can” may be a while. When my husband and I decided we needed to leave Tennessee, it was a year-long process to get everything in order. We didn’t know where we were moving or where Dan would find a job. Once he found a job, the negotiations took many months. After countless hours of whispered conversations, we could finally tell our kids. In an ideal world, we wouldn’t have had these secret conversations for a year. The kids pick up on all of this. If you’ve been talking about the move for a while, chances are that your kids already know something is up. To help ease anxiety with your kids, tell them right away. You don’t want them to hear it from someone else.
The Right Place to Tell Your Kids About the Move
The right place to tell your kids is wherever feels right for you. For our family, the five of us sat in the living room together after dinner. Dan and I sat directly across from our kids as we told them the news. One family I interviewed decided to go away on vacation and tell the kids at the hotel. They felt it would be best if they had time away from friends and neighbors to process the information. One mom told her children while her husband was at work, because the parents thought this would be best for the whole family. Consider where you’ll feel most patient and understanding. Share the news with your child there.
3 Steps to Telling Your Kids You’re Moving
I like game plans. To help you with yours, I’ve outlined the conversation you can have with your kids.
First, tell them WHY you are moving. Second, tell them WHEN you are moving. Third, give them three reasons to be excited about the move. The conversation would go something like this:
Kids, we have something important to tell you.
(1) We’re moving to Denver because Mommy got an amazing new job.
(2) We’ll be moving sometime in November.
(3) It’s going to be really wonderful for us because:
(a) We’ll be closer to Grandma and Grandpa now.
(b) Our backyard will have big trees in it where we can put up a zipline.
(c) We’ll be near the mountains so we’ll get to go sledding and skiing a lot.
It’s going to be a fun adventure for our family.”
Use whatever three things you think will make your child happiest about the fact that you’ll be moving. It should be something specific and tangible like seeing family members more often or being within walking distance of an ice cream shop. Try to think of something that is unique to the new place.
Keep It Simple and Ask for Questions
There’s no need to give your child every detail about the new house or their new city. Keep it short and sweet. He will be overwhelmed when he hears the words, “We’re moving.” Give him the basics then let your child ask you questions. This will help you focus the conversation on the things that matter to him. Answer each question honestly and to the best of your ability. If you don’t know the exact date of your move, tell him. You don’t need to have all the answers, but your child does need to know he can trust you.
Explain How She Will Keep In Touch With Friends
Your child will be most worried about leaving friends behind. Be prepared for questions about this. Explain to your child that friends left behind are not friends lost. If you have friends in other cities, use them as examples of friendships that have remained intact over long distances. Give your child concrete ways to keep in touch. Schedule a weekly virtual playdate. Allow your child and her friends to start emailing or texting or online gaming, so they can do this after the move as well. Tell them they can be pen pals. If they’ll be able to see each other in the near future, tell your child when that will happen. Please remember not to make promises you can’t keep.
Be Careful. The Kids Will Ask for a Puppy.
We’ll do anything to make the move less traumatic for the kids. Kids are smart. They sense our weaknesses. They’re not being consciously manipulative. Amazingly, there’s some part in your child’s brain that senses this is a good time to ask for a pet. There’s probably scientific evidence to back me up on this one. Be prepared. When you tell your kids about the move, it’s not just a conversation. It’s a negotiation. What are you willing to give the kids to make the move an easier transition for them? Don’t promise anything unless you’ve fully considered the consequences. I’m repeating myself now: Don’t make promises you cannot keep. If you promise them a puppy, be ready to have a new family member as soon as you move to your new house.
Rest Assured That Your Kids Will Be Better Than Fine
You are making this move to make a better life for your family. You are not being selfish. In fact, you are acting the opposite of selfish. You, too, are leaving everything behind for a fresh start in a place that will be better for your entire family in the long run. Try not to be so hard on yourself. Also, know that your kids will be fine. They will be sad for a while, but eventually the teary nights will end. You will be amazed at the resilience of your child. Your child can do this. It might be the most difficult thing he’s ever done, but he will grow stronger because of it. He will gain a confidence you never knew he had because now he’ll know he can make it through anything. It just takes time.