The Emotional Aspects of a Move During Divorce
Key Points
  • Moving for children, and adults, is emotional; however, depending on the age of the child, it may be more problematic. You can make the move into a game with young ones, they do not have as many emotional ties to friends or the home yet. As children get older, especially teens, their main concern is making relationships and taking your son or daughter away from their friends could be especially difficult.
  • Make sure you are available to your child to talk about his or her feelings, any questions he or she might have, or concerns. Get them involved in the move, order a pizza and make the moving process as fun as possible.
  • Remember, the divorce, now a move, this can all negatively impact your child, but then again almost anything can impact your child negatively but a move does not have to. Make the experience as positive as possible, even if your child is trying to be negative, don’t get too upset, for your child, this move could feel like the end of the world as he or she knows it.

At what age will children be most affected?

Typically, younger children have an easier time relocating. They tend to focus on the surroundings, like unpacking or observing the new area. It will seem more of an adventure to them than older children.

Older children do not deal with the moving experience quite as well because they are in the stage when independence and establishing relationships are the first concerns. This may make them resistant to the move and reluctant to talk about it.

How do you handle a child who does not want to move?

Almost all children will initially express resistance to the idea of moving, especially when separation and/or divorce of his or her parents is in the picture. Children will most likely follow the lead of his or her parent, but it is important to talk about the move and to understand the emotional feelings that are involved. Together, the parent and the children should explore the community and comfort will slowly but surely begin to set in.

How do you ease the children’s emotions during the move?

Often the moving process it can be very hectic and time consuming, so recognizing or paying close attention to a child’s emotions can be next to impossible. It is extremely important to sit down and talk with them about their feelings, questions and concerns. Also get them involved in the move and make it as much fun as possible. Take breaks with the kids and order pizza or take them out for lunch. These important breaks will give you time to find out how they are dealing with the whole idea of living in a new place.

Can a move have a negative impact on a child?

Anything can have a negative impact on a child, but a move does not have to. For children, moving creates a bunch of emotions- nervousness, apprehension, and anger. Divorce, along with new schools, new friends, a new neighborhood, can obviously be a most overwhelming and stressful moment for a child. As a parent, it is your job to conquer all this and to make the whole experience as positive as possible.

What signs should a parent look for that may indicate a child is having difficulty with moving?

Every child will react to a move in a different manner. Some children will be very open while others will not respond. It is important to recognize these feelings and to handle them in a positive manner. Some significant signs to look for: sleeping problems and nightmares, excessive crying, anger and frustration, and avoidance of social situations.

These behaviors should diminish over time, but if they do not, it is important to seek help from a mental health professional.

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