Q: I am a mother of three boys (ages 11, 9, and 3). We're moving to a new house so I can shorten my commute. How can I help them through it?
A: Moving is a challenging event at any age. In the long run, your boys will benefit at least as much as you do by your being more available. In the short run, any or all of them may be temporarily disquieted.
Moving means different things to different children. Age and temperament have a lot to do with that. Your 11 year old and 9 year old are more likely to feel the loss of friends. If your 3 year old is in nursery school or has neighborhood playmates, he too may miss them. But knowing the whole family will be together is primary for him. It would be helpful if the older boys could finish out the school year, and have time in the summer to get used to the new place.
Plan to invite their old friends over and make a special effort to find new ones. Take some time off to explore the new neighborhood together. Find out about recreational activities, scout for other kids to invite over, and make lots of trips to the new school before the fall opening.
Also, let the boys have many choices about their room arrangements, and even about common areas. Encourage everyone to keep in mind that this is a family project and how good it is that you are all together.
You put your finger on the key factor: your readiness "to help them through it." Take a deep breath and you'll know that in six months you all will wonder what you were worrying about. Focus on the positive things that lie ahead.
Adele M. Brodkin, Ph.D., is a psychologist, consultant, and author of many books, including Fresh Approaches to Working With Problematic Behavior and Raising Happy and Successful Kids: A Guide for Parents. In addition, she has written and produced award-winning educational videos.