The teen years come with enough of their own challenges, even without adding frequent moves to the mix. If you're facing relocation, this is your chance, as a parent, to step up and help your teen cope as well as possible. These are just a few of the things you can do before, during and after a move to help your teen say goodbye, and then get a great start in your new location.
- Before relocation. You can help make your teen more comfortable with the idea of moving by researching your new duty station, the surrounding community and schools before you leave. Be sure to ask for your welcome packet and a sponsor to help you get settled in the new area. Networking with friends and neighbors who may have previously been stationed there can also build excitement and a certain degree of comfort about the move for you and your teenager. Visit MilitaryINSTALLATIONS for more information on your duty station or Military Youth on the Move for tips written specifically for kids, pre-teens and teens!
- Saying goodbye to friends. Be understanding if teens seem to want to spend extra time with their friends prior to a move. Show empathy while your teen deals with leaving close friends or a boyfriend or girlfriend behind. Talk to your teens as much as possible and remind them of all the ways they can stay in touch with the people they're leaving behind. You may even consider hosting a farewell party or giving your teen a camera to take to school to snap a few pictures.
- Team MOVE. Face the move together by executing "Team MOVE" (mobilize, organize, value, and engage). Hold a family meeting once the move is definite to discuss where and when you'll be going and to mobilize the plans as a family. Get organized by making lists of everything that needs to be done before you leave. Value each family member's talents; put your teen in charge of one aspect of the move so that he or she is actively involved in the process. Continue holding regular family meetings up until the move to address upcoming preparations and discuss questions or concerns your teen may have about moving.
- Getting settled. Once you've arrived at your new installation, encourage your teen to explore, reach out and meet new friends. Help your teen locate the installation or community gym, theater, recreation center, youth center, mall, beach and other areas of interest. Take time to get to know the areas together so that once your teens go out on their own you'll know where they are. Once your teen has made some friends at the new installation, offer to host a small get-together at your home for all of them.
- Youth center. One facility available at most installations that may be of particular interest to your teen is the youth center. Pop in or make an appointment to see what kinds of activities are available at your installation, and, as a way to spend more time with your teen, consider volunteering at the youth center.