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Jennifer, School Psychologist
Category: Parenting
Satisfied Customers: 397
Experience:  Collaborative parent consultation on everything from modifying behavior to child development.
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My husband and I have been looking for a home for 7 years

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My husband and I have been looking for a home for 7 years and due to several of my restrictions and safety concerns have not been able to find one until now. My 8 year old daughter is on board and would love to move to the town (20 minutes away from our current town), but my 12 year old is happy in her small private school and I am terrified to force her to change schools, although her current school is very limiting socially (very small amount of choice in years to come) , academically and musically (she is a violinist and there is no orchestra), and is expensive, and the area holds no prospect for us to find a very nice home or have as good a social life ourselves. Where to live has become an obsession and the years are wasting away. My marriage is strained because my husband wants to move to his other town which is more of a community than where we are. Do I risk damaging my daughter permanently by asking her to move (she is sweet, bright and musical)? I would love professional input.
Thank you so much.
Hello and thanks for using!

Making a decision that is in the best interest of your entire family is what's most important here. While your 12-year old may not agree, this isn't surprising given her age. Peer relationships become very important at this age and it's scary to consider a move away from everything she knows. This doesn't mean she wouldn't thrive in another school, make new friends right away, and flourish with new opportunities academically and musically. Ultimately, you are the parent who gets to make decisions like these. If you're wanting her to feel involved in the process, you could certainly hold a family meeting where you discuss the fact that this decision has been made and you want to know how everyone is feeling about it -- not because it will change your decision, but because you're hoping you can all brainstorm ways to make this a smooth transition for everyone. For example, if she tells you she is afraid she'll never see her friends you would ask, "How can I help?" Ideas such as making plans to visit friends, keeping in touch with them through e-mail, etc. may help her to see how she can continue to have those important people in her life. Also focus on the exciting things she has to look forward to. She may dispute them, but she'll be thinking about those possibilities later when she's processing all of the upcoming changes.

Children change schools all of the time (some more than others). Changing once or twice is highly unlikely to cause any permanent damage and it sounds like it will provide her and your family with better opportunities in the long run (academically / musically, less strain on you as her parents, less financial stress).

I wish you the best of luck!
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Customer: replied 8 years ago.
This is such encouraging advice and I need to find the inner courage to be confident that she will make friends and be happy at the school. The one piece of information I had not given was that her 6th grade year was at a new private school - she has just been there one year, and loved it so much more than her former school where the girls excluded her. It is a very friendly and inclusive grade of kids, and her prior years were with just the opposite (again, a very small private school so limited choice). Does this change your advice at all as far as trauma to her development/self-esteem/need for stability?
It still comes down to what's best for your entire family. You can remind her how easy it was to make friends at her new school and that she'll likely have no problem making connections once again. It may be helpful to enroll her in whatever classes / groups you'd planned on having her participate in early on so she has an opportunity to establish some peer connections before the start of the year. If that's not possible, that's OK. Stability is certainly important, but as this will only be her second move (and hopefully last?) I wouldn't worry too much. Teach her how to introduce herself to new people and provide her with opportunities to meet others (New student orientation available? After school groups / sports? Any school clubs she might be interested in -- Student Government, Orchestra, Jazz Band, Theater, etc.?) Talk about the opportunities that will be available at the larger school.

If she continues to come back to the decision to move (get ready -- I imagine she'll lay on the guilt!) just keep coming back to a few key statements: "Moving was an adult decision that your father and I made because it's what was best for our family" and "I love you too much to argue."

Here are some more helpful tips for how to ease the transition:
Customer: replied 8 years ago.
I just wanted to let you know that today we committed to moving. Your advice seemed so sound and I really appreciate your input. My 12 year old is away at camp and does not know yet (I do not want to ruin her time). Your help is giving me the courage and some confidence to finally do this.
Thank you!!!
I'm so glad! It sounds like moving is certainly the best decision for your family. She'll be OK -- validate her feelings (she'll likely be angry for a time) and support her by giving her opportunities to express how she feels as well as activities in which she might connect with peers in her new school / community. Good luck with the move! I know it's stressful, but it can also be very exciting! Try to remember it's the good kind of stress (leading to positive change). Let me know if you need any help in the future. It was a pleasure working with you!