For financial reasons, my family is going to be moving soon, and my daughter will need to change schools. We simply cannot afford to live in our town anymore. She is 12 years old, and is finally starting to enjoy middle school. I think she's going to be angry and heartbroken. How do I tell her that we're moving?
It can be very difficult for middle school children to move away from their established friends and start over at a new school. On the other hand, it is better that you make this move now, than when she is in high school, which would most likely be an even more difficult move. It really depends on the child. Some kids do very well with change and others are more resistant. The bottom line is however that you are not moving to make her life miserable or to do this to her personally, you are moving because you are doing what is best for the family as a whole. It can be a tough lesson to swallow as a kid, but someday she will understand it and accept it.
What you can do is to talk with her as honestly as you can without having to go into too many financial details. You can tell her that you wish things were different but this is what has to be done. Listen to her and try to be empathetic and allow her to express her feelings about it.
As soon as possible, make an appointment to visit the new school. Find out as much as possible about the school and encourage her to join in activities. It may take some time for her to adjust but as long as you keep the communication open between the two of you, she will feel more at ease and trust your decision.
Please contact our Hotline if you would like to speak with a counselor. We are here 24 hours 7 days a week through our toll-free Hotline or through e-mail. Take care and best wishes to you and your daughter!
Boys Town National Hotline
aqblickley - the member who asked this question - selected this as the best answer posted by another Education.com member.
from a fellow member
I'm sorry your family is in this situation. I know your question is about your daughter but I'm sure this is heartbreaking for you too!
I moved several times when I was in middle school and high school. It's definitely not easy - especially for a girl - but there's a lot you can do to make it easier.
I contributed to an article on moving that you might find helpful. I think the first tip is especially important for you and your situation. (Link to the whole article below)
1. Resist spraying sunshine.
Nothing will make your child feel worst than if you minimize the challenges of moving to a new school in the middle of the year. Don't say, "You're going to be fine....everyone will love you!" Instead talk honestly about the reality of the situation and his concerns. Acknowledge the challenge and tell your child something like, "I know it was really hard to leave your old school and your friends. I bet it feels really scary to think about your first day at your new school. Can you tell me some of the things you are worried about?" Don't promise her that the first day will be "great." But do tell her: "I'm here to help you, and our family is going to do everything we can to help get you settled and have a great life here."
2. Try to arrange a test drive.
If possible, let your child spend some time at the school and in the classroom before her first day. An after-school visit on Friday to meet the teacher and principal, locate the restrooms, check out the cafeteria and see her classroom and desk will go a long way toward making your child feel more comfortable when she starts on Monday morning.
3. Indulge in a little retail therapy.
If you're moving to a new part of the country, chances are the fashions will be a little bit different. Your child will feel much less self-conscious if his first-day outfit is in line with what the kids at his new school are wearing. Don't spring for a whole new wardrobe, but try to help him fit in.
4. Don't try to buy your child's enthusiasm.
You might do some things to help your child feel good about the move, like buying some new clothes, but don't lavish extravagant gifts on her to try to ease the stress of this major change. You really can't buy her happiness (or popularity). You're much better off spending time with her than spending money on her.
5. Join the school community too.
Do what you can to support social activities outside of school. Become as involved as possible in the PTA. Actively seek friendships with other parents. You can do a lot to accelerate your child's successful integration in a new school by helping her meet up with her classmates outside of school. This is not the time to be pushy...don't insist that your child get involved before she's ready. It's also not the time to let go of the reigns and give your child total freedom after school. The goal is to give her the support and encouragement to start to make friends while keeping her safe.
6. Cut him some slack.
Moving to a new school in the middle of the year is stressful. Your child is going to manage that stress in his own way. He may regress behaviorally or academically. He may become withdrawn or more prone to angry outbursts. He may want to spend more time with you. He may want nothing to do with you for a while. He may be thrilled with the clean slate a new school provides and thrive in the new environment. Whatever your child's reaction, know that it's the right one for him. Give him a little extra latitude to work through the stress and emotions while making sure he knows that you're right there to support him. You're not dropping your expectations altogether; you're just giving him some space to adjust to the change.
7. Don't make your child cut ties with his old life.
If your child seems to be missing old friends, help him reach out to them with a phone call, letter, or email. Kids have room in their hearts for lots of friends, so supporting their desires to stay close to old friends really won't jeopardize their efforts to make new ones. And being connected to old friends can help keep kids from feeling lonely while they're ramping up at their new school.