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How NOT to Discuss Moving with Kids

Mayflower_moving_truckThe first place I can remember living for any length of time was a little squat adobe house just off Mountain Road in Albuquerque, New Mexico. It was next to the irrigation ditch (where I played with crawfish) behind a small strip of apartments. It had wood paneling, bad carpeting, cockroaches, and mice. I had to go through my mother’s bedroom to get to my room or the bathroom.

I was about five years old, and we lived there for nearly three years, I believe, and it was already the fifth place I’d lived. By the time we ended up at my favorite childhood spot a condo in the Heights I’d lived in seven different places. Moving was normal for me, and once I moved on my own I pretty much moved every year until I got sober at age 27. Since then I’ve settled down (some) with a couple three year stretches of renting before buying our first home, and we’ve now been in our current suburban home for nine years. It’s the longest I’ve ever lived anywhere. And, of course, it’s the only place my seven-year-old daughter has ever lived.

For a couple of years now my husband and I have discussed moving back into the city. We’re not great suburbanites, and my daughter’s school is currently a 35-minute drive away. My husband’s moving experience is similar to mine, so both of us view moving as a simple thing. Since my daughter won’t be switching schools, we didn’t think she’d care much about moving, particularly since many of the neighborhoods we’re considering are actually much closer to where her school friends live.

We were wrong.

This was one of those parenting moments that slaps you in the face with the reminder that your child’s life experience is nothing like your own. We did it all wrong, talking blithely around my daughter about moving without broaching the subject carefully. While we’d discussed it with her in general terms months ago, she clearly didn’t understand that we were serious until we began having lengthy discussions about neighborhoods.

She had a complete meltdown.

We’ve worked it out with her since, but I feel horribly about how it was presented to her. It’s worse, too, because we don’t have to move unlike most folks when they sit their kids down to chat about moving. We’re doing this slowly, carefully, and by choice but we still should have taken better care in telling our daughter.

Do you have experiences like this? Have you had to move with your kids? We finally had a breakthrough when we started discussing new furniture for my daughter’s new room (maybe even bunk beds). How did you handle it?

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