We’re preparing for a major move from the only home our three kids have known. At 6, 8 and 11 they’re already experiencing a range of painful emotions. We’ve heard some horror stories from parents who got moving wrong. How can we get it right?
Moving involves changes, very real losses and can create a crisis for children and adults. Moving produces disorientation, disequilibrium and uncertainty. The world as they’ve know it is being turned upside down.
At the same time moving provides an opportunity to learn the invaluable life-skill of managing change. It can actually bring your family closer together and help them experience the difference that God can make during uncertain times.
The best place to start is always in prayer—with your spouse, with them and as a family. Let hem hear you express your fears and concerns for yourself and for them to the Lord. Let them hear you claim specific promises from God’s word. Ask them to pray for you just as you are praying for them.
Make time to look through THEIR eyes and listen through THEIR ears and feel with THEIR hearts. Stop, listen and look for any opportunity to acknowledge their concerns. When they share painful or negative emotions don’t correct them, minimize their concerns or give them the message that it’s wrong to have those feelings.
At their age they don’t have the vocabulary, abstraction skills or the life experience to understand or verbalize their confusing emotions. As you talk about your own emotions, you will help them better understand and normalize theirs
Feelings are feelings and listening tells your kids that they are valued, important to you and precious in your sight, and sends the powerful message that in your family it is always safe to feel and to express their emotions.
Don’t be surprised if they develop eating, sleeping or school problems. If these do occur, know that they are often rooted in emotional issues. As they get used to the “new normal” and begin to make new friends, you’ll be likely to see these problems decrease and disappear.
I’ve worked with many families for whom moving actually proved to be a huge blessing. They allowed God to use it to bring them together in ways they’d never imagined. To see each other, to see their family and to see God as the “Promise Keeper” who can indeed can, consistent with Romans 8:28, cause all things to work together for good.