255. Moving

One of the many harsh realities of life in these United States (and other places, I’m sure) is that families often have reasons to move away from places where they’ve come to feel at home. Often, these reasons make no sense at all to children. Children make friends, get to know local favorite places, adjust to schools, and then are abruptly uprooted and transplanted. The reasons may have to do with changes in their parents’ jobs, marital situations, health, or other considerations.
Once in a while, adults decide that their children’s security is more important than other considerations, and depends on staying. But more often, children have to make the adjustments that go with moving to a new place, and trying to make it home. Close friends turn into penpals, and in many cases, become only memories.
School records may travel to new schools, but that doesn’t really do a lot to make the adjustment easy. Some children are great at welcoming new friends. Some new friends are great at getting themselves to be welcomed. It helps if a child’s new home is near potential friends’ homes. There are things adults can do to make things easier. They can figure out what’s different about the new setting, and help children make new connections.
But adults who have just moved are often preoccupied with their own adjustment, and may not be able to do much about children’s difficulties. Adults often think it’s easier for children to adjust to changes than it is for adults. There may be some truth to that, but it may also be a matter of perspective; children are faced with inevitability, while adults have had at least some influence on the decision to move. Inevitability can make you feel powerless, but it can also make you come to terms with change more easily.
There’s also a difference in the way adults and children experience time. If a child adjusts to a new place in a few months, to an adult, that may seem fast – only a fraction of a year. To a child, a few months is more often a large number of days – even a larger number of hours, minutes, and seconds. It can seem like an eternity. If you have to move again, it can be devastating for a child to hear that.
If a change is inevitable, that doesn’t mean children have to deal with it alone. They ought to know, sooner or later, about the inevitability, so that they can learn to accept it. That inevitability often involves some loneliness and rebellion. It helps to acknowledge the sadness and anger children may feel. While they don’t have a lot of power over the situation, they need to know that we care about how the changes affect them.

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