If you are supposed to move across the border or move abroad for your work or career, your minor children will naturally go with you. Life as an expat can be pretty interesting, but your teenage child might beg to differ. Adolescence is a difficult phase of life, and major developments like leaving your current life to start anew in unknown territory can be pretty disruptive.
Moreover, leaving a place where one was born and raised is not easy; going far away from friends, a familiar neighbourhood, and everything that defines you is increasingly painful at an age when emotions run high. If your teenager is all worked up about the move, here’s how you can help them cope:
Be Patient and Understanding
You will simply have to tolerate their tantrums and unruly behaviour after the big announcement. It would be best if you sympathized with the fact that they don’t get a choice in this. The situation is unfair for them, so you shouldn’t provoke them any further by retaliating or punishing them for being rude. Give them time and space to make peace with it.
Tell them about all the great things at your destination.
It helps to indulge the child in attractions around the new place of residence. Acknowledge their interests to look for things and places that might intrigue or grab their attention. Keep mentioning all the good things about the foreign country, so that they develop a positive impression.
Research suitable schools
Look up all the schools in the district; find one that would be most agreeable with the personality and likings of your child. Let them step into an environment they can easily adjust to or one that doesn’t seem suffocating and isolating.
Let them have a grand farewell.
Your child is being coerced into a new life, so the least you can do is make the farewell count. If they want to throw one last big party, allow it. If they have elaborate plans with their friends, support them. Give them the opportunity to say goodbye like they want to, so they attain closure.
Allow them to keep in touch with their hometown.
The first few weeks are the hardest. Your teenager may stay on the phone all day, conversing with old friends from their hometown. However, they will eventually immerse in their new surroundings, so do not rush them or get agitated.
Stick to a Routine they are accustomed to
Even though you are in a foreign country with different customs and cultures, let your child reside in a familiar environment in their new home. Decorate it in a way that makes them feel comfortable and integrate their old routine.
Eliminate the Language Barrier
If the natives of your new host country speak a different language, your child is likely to feel like the odd one out among locals. However, kids learn fast, so enrol them in the foreign language course before moving. Enrolling them in a language class will help expand their knowledge and provide the communication skills they need to fit in with the new crowd.
Give them Choices
Your child was not given an option in abandoning their previous life, but you can compensate for that by letting them have a say in other things. For example, let them choose the new school they will be joining, new friends, course subjects, extra-curricular activities, and so on.
Talk to them
Your teenager will face many challenges at the beginning of their expat life; hence, you should play the role of their guide or beacon. If they seem troubled, ask them about their problems and try to solve them in a non-intrusive manner. If they ask you to emancipate them, you should discuss the circumstances with a family law attorney. Remind your child that you love them and want them to remain close to you.
Assist them in making new friends and settling in
Do everything in your power to make your child feel at home. You may look for other expat families nearby and build a friendly relationship with them. Explore the new surroundings with your teenager and encourage them to socialize with the locals as well.
John Adams is a paralegal who writes about widespread legal and social issues. He helps readers overcome challenges and solve many personal problems the smart way rather than the hard way. He aims to reach out to individuals who are unaware of their legal rights and make the world a better place.
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