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Moving in High School? Worst Advice We Give Our Teens

Moving in high school? Then you are probably a military teen. According to the National Military Family Association, military children will say good-bye to more significant people by age 18 than the average person will in their lifetime.

Tell that to your mother.

Watch her shrivel a little with the incredible guilt. Your dad probably has a higher tolerance for your pain about the move, but your mom will just panic. I bet she will do what I did and jump online looking for some good advice for military teens moving in high school.

And she will find some of the worst advice ever for moving in high school.

This is exactly the same advice I gave my own teenagers when they were moving in high school. This was the same advice my mom gave me.

I wish I could take it all back. Here is some of the worst advice I told my kids and what I wish I had told them instead:

This will be a fresh new start for you!

Would you believe that most of the advice for parents moving in high school starts with the happy thought that not every teenager minds moving? In fact, these experts say you might even WELCOME a move.

This is extremely rare. Not unknown, but rare. Even if you are on the bottom of the social structure of your high school, you at least know the rules of that particular place. You know the players. There is some safety in that.

I wish I had told my kids something like, “You really built up a whole life at this school. It is going to be hard to let that go. I’ll do everything I can to help you stay connected to this life while you are working on building a new life at the new school. What can I do to help?”

We aren’t moving until the end of the school year!

Many of the experts tell parents to try to schedule their move around the academic calendar. They say that leaving after classes have let out for the summer is less disruptive for teens.

Sure, that’s kind of true. But what I didn’t realize was that if we waited until the end of the school year to move, then my teens had the whole summer to get through without any friends. Grades are one part of a moving teen’s life. Friends are the structure on which everything else is based.

I wish I had told my kids something like, “I know you don’t want to move. We can, at least, offer you some times that might be better for you. So what do you think? Do you want to move right away during the school year? After the end of the school year? Right before school starts? Help me out here.”

The more control I gave my teens over their lives, the better they were with their move. I wish I had done that even more.

This move is a total upgrade!

When your teens are moving in high school, experts tell parents to build a travelogue for their kid. They are supposed to sit with teens online to demonstrate all the new area has to offer. Beaches! Mountains! Amusement parks! The pool in your backyard!

That kind of travel guide is for a vacation, not a move.  It sometimes works with younger kids, not teens. My teens already had been online to look at that stuff for themselves the minute we said orders might be coming. They didn’t care about scenery. They cared about friends.

I wish I had shut up about that. I wish I had let the new place just speak for itself.

Instead, I wish my husband and I had sat with our kids to show them on paper how a military career works and why this move was important for all of us. I wish we would have talked about their future careers and why they might or might not move for a job someday.

Our teens wouldn’t have been happier about the move, but they always responded pretty well to things framed in terms of themselves as adults.

During a move, parents are weighed down with so many other considerations. Timing and schedules and finding a new house and selling the old house and dealing with moving companies and traveling to the new location and starting in a new command and money and money and money.

It is easy for us to wish that our teens would just get over it and move without so much complaining and angst and drama. But it works better to be with them and let them feel what they feel and think what they think without talking them out of it.

That’s the hard part. That is the part I think makes the difference with teenagers and the outcome of their move, but really doing it is so hard.

About Jacey Eckhart

Jacey Eckhart is the former Director of Spouse and Family Programs for Military.com. Since 1996, Eckhart’s take on military families has been featured in her syndicated column, her book The Homefront Club, and her award winning CDs These Boots and I Married a Spartan?? Most recently she has been featured as a military family subject matter expert on NBC Dateline, CBS morning news, CNN, NPR and the New York Times. Eckhart is an Air Force brat, a Navy wife and an Army mom. Find her at JaceyEckhart.net.

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