5 Conversation Tips for Families Going Through a Move
The evening I told my two sons that we were going to move, they seemed to take it pretty well.
They asked questions, voiced a few concerns, but moved on from the subject relatively quickly. A bit surprised that no arguments arose, I counted myself lucky. However, just after bedtime I heard my oldest son crying in his room. I went in to check on him, and my heart dropped at the sight of tears streaming down his face. He wasn’t alright. He was angry, and I understood why.
I moved a lot as a kid. I can remember the fear of a new place and the heartbreak of leaving good friends behind. So I wasn’t frustrated or upset with my son. But I did feel helpless. I laid next to him in his bed, quietly holding onto him for several minutes, wondering what to say when he finally broke the silence.
“I don’t want to go,” he said through his sniffles.
I held him a little tighter and said the only thing that came to my mind. “It’s okay. You don’t have to want to go.” Because he didn’t. In fact, it would be a little strange if he wasn’t at least a little reluctant. I was reluctant, and I had been part of the decision to move. “You won’t get in trouble for feeling that way, okay? We’re a team, we’ll get through this together.”
He nodded in response.
That night I stayed with him until he fell asleep. The following morning, and over the next weeks, we talked a lot about our feelings. Sometimes we were excited, sometimes we were scared or sad. We shared it all, no longer assuming that each of us was okay. We allowed for bad days and good all the same, and we wound up coming up with some talking points that really helped us through this transition. Here are a few conversation tips that have worked well with my family:
- We talk about things that we miss from our old house/city. It’s okay to miss things. It’s normal. Sometimes we have whole dinner conversations based on the fact that we used to have so many nearby playgrounds, or that there were at least five great pizza places within a five mile radius of our home.
- We talk about things we’ll miss when we move back. Our new home is only temporary--two years. So along with talking about what we miss from home, we acknowledge the great things about our new home that we’ll be bummed to leave behind. We get to take the subway system to get around, and we can take weekend trips to places we couldn’t before.
- Try to remember that not all days are going to be great. Most of our conversations are happy, but some days are just rough. Sometimes it’s hard to think about anything besides what we miss back home. And that’s okay.
- Ask, “How can we get through this as a team?” When the bad days happen, I like to ask this question. It gets my boys to open up more and discuss creative ways to solve problems. Rather than brushing things off, we create plans of action and work through it. Maybe we need to arrange a Skype chat with our friends or family. Perhaps a movie and popped corn night is needed so we can snuggle and regroup.
- Try not to use “good” or “bad” to define new things. When talking about being in Colorado versus being in Berlin, things are “different,” “interesting,” or “challenging.” Being in a new place means adjusting to a new way of living. We live in a big city now, and we don’t own a car–a huge change from our old home. While it’s tempting on a cold, rainy day when we’re stuck riding our bikes, to say that this is a “bad” change won’t help. Instead, we talk about the challenge and how in a year from now, we’ll be pros at riding in the rain.
Overall, these five things have fueled a lot of positive conversations. Along with remembering that it’s okay to feel bad sometimes, we can talk about the move and our feelings without being overwhelmed. They’ve really helped us, and if you’re going through a change, maybe they can help you too.
by Rebbekka Messenger