My grandchild was left @ 2 yrs of age by her mom. She & my son have been with us for 2 yrs. They will move in Dec. Slow transition or complete move?
She was abandoned and had a hard time with it. Now when I tell her that they will be moving to a new house she comes unglued and says she wants to stay with us. My son is willing to slowly transition her allowing her to stay with us and having her increase visits to the new house. I want to do the right thing. When her mom abandoned her she had so many insecurities. She has come full circle and is very happy. I don't want to undo the great strides she has made. My son is a great dad to her, but schooling and work has kept him busy and she has looked to me as a mother figure. Her mother is out of state, never sees her, and rarely speaks to her. I want to do the right thing. Is transition the answer?
Your granddaughter is so lucky to have you in her life. You write about her with such adoration and understanding, it is clear that you are playing a very important role in helping her grow and develop.
How old is your granddaughter? Has her father already moved to the new house? How far away will she be moving? Overall, I think that it is reasonable to allow a slow transition for the move. To better prepare her, there are a number of steps you can take to make the move smoother:
Depending upon your granddaughter's age, you will talk with her about the move in different ways. For instance, if she is still in preschool, you would use simpler language with her to discuss the move and you may wish to "act out" the move through play. Through play, she can process a lot of the emotions she has about change associated with the move and the potential of being separated from you. Similarly, you may wish to check out a few books from the local library about children moving (see first link below). Read these books with her before bedtime, allowing time to talk about her feelings surrounding moving.
If your granddaughter is in elementary or middle school, she will be better able to articulate her fears and concerns, which will allow you to "rationalize" with her more. Discuss why she will be moving, a rough timeline for the move, and reassure her that you will be available. Do not make promises that you cannot keep. It is very important to provide security and dependability. If she will be moving father than just a few minutes away, discuss how often you plan to see one another and schedule your first visit (and do not miss the visit!). You may wish to buy her a new phone book and add your contact information first. Include your phone number and email (if you use email) along with a photo of you.
Regardless of her age, allow her many opportunities to visit her new home as possible. Before the move, she may wish to bring one toy over for each visit that she will leave with each trip.
Of course, no matter how much preparation you and her father put into the move, it will be a bit of a challenge. Moves are difficult for most children, but when you add the insecurity she carries because of losing her mother, she will likely struggle with the transition. Just think love, consistency, and planning. She will make it through.
L. Compian, Ph.D.
The expert who first answered listed excellent strategies and information. I too applaud your efforts. Please allow me to just add a few comments.
Try and have your granddaughter become involved in an extra-curricular activity, such as dance, gymnastics, scouts, etc. that could involve her with meeting other children from her new area/school and also keep you involved in her life. This will help her with the new transition and help her to create relationships with age appropriate peers.
Also, try creating a social story with her by using her own story or photos. She may find comfort in knowing that she is loved and there are dependable people in her life by creating a story with the use of pictures. Starting a scrapbook also can help with her chronicling the positive events in her life and lead her to add to her own "story".
Good luck! I have added some links for you to help you with creating stories or having them made for you.
Nationally Certified School Psychologist