Caught in a mundane job, home, and family routines, the thought of moving to a new place and starting life fresh seems like the ultimate rejuvenation. We do think of the initial start-up hassles but still cannot fathom the enormity of adjustment that the entire relocating baggage holds.
Having relocated across seas with two children, I know how extracting it can be, and on reflection, I feel there’s a lot I could have done to make it easier for my children. If done with a lot of family consultation, planning, and a positive attitude, the transition to a new land can be an exciting and enjoyable experience.
Relocating across countries
The ‘move’ calls for walking out of a life that took years establishing an unknown territory that probably attracted you with more fertile possibilities. For some moving on to closer, more familiar towns or cities with friends or family around to extend eager support, setting in gets easier.
You get a tremendous amount of social security if there are people you know to fall back on. Furthermore, having them also channels you into the city’s social network. So, even though the children miss their peers from back home, they soon have new ones to connect to and engage with.
For others, like us, shifting too far off places or countries is like stepping into a no-know zone. Exciting it might be, but migrating into a world that’s culturally, linguistically, and socially different does lend a feeling of alienation.
Despite having the benefit of computers that give you access to global information, finding your way into the new system – right from banking, renting a home to set your kids in schools – draws on your energies and patience. You have to find your way around for your most basic needs and work at the base level to get your life functional.
How do the children feel?
No matter how well you prepare your children for the oncoming change, giving up on their friends, school, and familiar environment could be emotionally upsetting. If the kids are younger, being in a new neighborhood and amidst unknown faces at school is likely to make them insecure and clingy. They require a lot of assurance and positive urgings from the parents as well as the new teachers to acclimatize to the change.
The older children are easily excited by opportunities to explore new worlds. Yet, if there are stronger peer bonding from back home, they too could be drawn into feeling isolated and restless.
Parents can make it easier.
Bonding with your children, encouraging communication, and being empathetic to their feelings is the best possible therapy a parent can offer. Having them involved in decisions regarding the new environment helps to keep them stimulated towards settling down. Kids come out of their missing-our-friends blues when they were asked to think about the things they would like to have in their rooms, accessories they would need for school, etc. Being interactive with other parents that you see around the neighborhood/parks opens up acquainting and friendship opportunities for the children. Getting internet access helps older children to stay connected with the friends they have left behind. Creating positive mottos and one-liners like, "Keep a happy face, and you'll make friends soon," worked wonders to pep up the children. I feel it helps to build a healthy attitude towards the change, accepting and reaching out to new people.
Older or younger, children are greatly influenced by the perceptions and reactions of parents. There have been careless moments during our resettling phase when I have let out more than what the children need to hear and feel. It is important to restrain your feelings so that the children remain sheltered from negative observations or experiences – considering that they have uprooted from habituated grounds on our trail.