“Ask Lina” is a special editorial series where we invite you to send us your parenting questions in the comments below and our teen & tween emotional expert, Lina Acosta Sandaal, gives you tips that will help you navigate these crucial “in-between years.”
Planning a move is tasking; when it comes to those in the tween-teen years it is especially difficult. At this age their social world and their place in it is of high importance. It is important as a parent of a tween or teen to hold this in mind when moving or transitioning them to a new social world. Here are some tips for moving with tweens and teens to keep in mind:
1. Give advance warning and information.
It may seem easier to hold off on telling the children about your upcoming move. You may want to spare them the stress and worry. However, last minute changes can be very difficult on the tween/teen. They need to be able to process and understand how the world they know will be changing and predict what it will be like in the new place. Allow time for dialogue and for questions, reassuring them that no question will be left unanswered (as long as an answer exists).
2. Provide Time and Space for Preparation.
There will be many things to pack and get together before a move. It is important to allow the tween/teen the ownership to throw away, give away or pack what they feel is important for this transition. Give them a couple of boxes to pack what they feel is important to move. These boxes need to be their own, even if you don’t see the need for 18 pictures of a favorite band. Give them a due date for the packing; many of them will put it off due to the feelings they may be experiencing.
3. Rituals and Long Good-byes.
Social Engagement is one of the major developmental markers for adolescents 12-24. It is important to allow for extra time and special “good byes” for your tween/teen to be able to have closure with those who make up their peer support system. Taffel, a teen expert calls their friends, their second family. Encourage them to make a book, video, photo collage, something they can take with them as a keepsake of this “second family” they are leaving behind. Although it will be difficult, make sure to allow them to spend “extra” time with their peers if they seek it.
Maintain clarity with yourself and your children of the expectations on feelings about the move. A move is exciting and terrifying. Everyone in the family will be going through the rollercoaster of emotions. The tween/teen will begin to build their new peer community while they will hold on to the old one. Let them. This is part of the process of moving on. Honor the loss they have had in the transition by making it possible for them to stay connected with old friends. Until things settle, which could take up to 2 months, set an expectation that “all” feelings are allowed for everyone in the family.
A move is an opportunity and a loss. Hope these few tips make it smoother. Good luck!
Have a tween/teen parenting question for Lina? Great! You can add your question in the comments below and Lina will be happy to answer in a future post.
Lina Acosta Sandaal, MA, LMFT is a psychotherapist, child development expert and founder of Stop Parenting Alone, a parenting and therapy center in Miami, FL. She is the parenting expert on Telemundo’s national morning show Un Nuevo Dia, a co-chair from the Florida Maternal Mental Health Collaborative and a consultant for MomsRising, a national organization advocating for children and family rights