In the last decade it has become more and more common for people to be moving away from family due to work or other circumstances in life. Before this, people would go away to college and the vast percentage would return to or near their home birthplace to seek opportunity and settle down into adult life. There is definitely something to be said for having family close, especially if you are a close knit unit and get along. However, every person at some point in their life should break out on their own for a while to sow the oats that only independence can bring.
Without children, the move is not as traumatic. You can come and go as you please, get in touch whenever you want and traveling back and forth can be done at the spur of the moment. It is exciting and liberating, sometimes scary but always healthy to try and find your way on your own. Often, family being so close is restrictive in many ways. Older children may still feel obligated to report in, attend a certain church and engage in specific behaviors or activities that are ‘silently expected’ by the family. Unfortunately, this often means that when people don’t branch out on their own, they are guarded by a set of rules that don’t allow them to say no, or grow and explore their own passions in life. Similarly, while people are similar in many places around the US or the world; diving into a new community or style of life forces you to learn how to interact properly and successfully with a world that hasn’t known you since you were a baby.
Once marriage comes along it can feel exciting to move away from family and out of the umbrella of supervision that keeps you feeling like a child forever. Life is an exploration and new experiences exist around every corner. Plus, the newness of the relationship and the dream of marriage and having a life of your own take on an energy all its own. Then, children come and being away from family can be hard. You realize that your children aren’t growing up with cousins, aunts or uncles. You don’t have babysitters that are related to you or a blanket of support to help pick up the kids when an emergency arises. You wind up depending on friends quite a bit and most people find that once children come into the picture; the friend circle too is not as large. These friends with children of their own are also coming back to the essence of family and togetherness and their close knit social circle often becomes one of relatives.
As the children grow up, moving away from family means a lot of missed opportunity as well. If you and your partner live near one side of the family and far from the other; it can feel like your children are growing up with a one sided view of how family life should be. You will also realize that your children in this situation, will always look, act and be “just like the mom or dad” depending on whose family is the closest. This can leave the parent whose family is far away feeling lonely and out of touch, almost like an outsider in their own life.
If your family is already established and a job opportunity or promotion has you thinking about moving away from family for the first time; it can be the hardest decision of your life. Having to uproot children who are comfortable in their lives and move to a place where you aren’t privy to a community of relatives who care about you and your child’s wellbeing can be stressful to say the least. Similarly, the children will become the “new kids” and you will have to rediscover all the simplicities in life like the best places to eat, where the speed traps are in town, which schools are the best and where to shop for groceries. At first, this can be fun and exciting – but eventually life resumes like it always does and you realize that you doing pretty much the same thing just in a different place. Luckily, technology makes it easy to stay in touch with others so you can forge close bonds. But be warned; being fearful to branch out and connect with people near you in lieu of those that are far away will only have you and your family missing out on plenty of new friendships and experiences. Stepping out of the box, engaging in your new community and relying on your personality and skills to make new connections is vital. You shouldn’t feel guilty for making new friends and building a life for yourself even though you may miss the family you left behind.
Make Plans to Keep in Touch
If you are moving away from family, then make sure you set yourself up with a survival plan as well. Set aside money so you can travel and make frequent visits back home. Use videos and pictures to keep family up to date about the events going on in your life and make sure that grandparents, cousins etc and your kids remain close. Plan vacations together and make sure that you make time to celebrate holidays and participate in family rituals together so you don’t feel alienated. If you need help with moving, with the kids, then just ask. Stock up your cell phone or home phone with plenty of long distance minutes so that you can still chat for hours with your best friend or your mom or both. No matter how busy you are, use email, e-cards, snail mail, social networking sites and other means to let those back home know that they are in your thoughts. At the same time, be brave enough to have faith in the fact that new best friends and a new family; may be awaiting you in the place you are at as well.
When it comes to moving away from family, you should never say never! Things happen and sometimes life evolves into things that are unexpected, but wonderful nonetheless. Moving away from family physically, doesn’t mean you have to move away emotionally. Often, the heart goes stronger with some distance and you may find that the move; however painful or exciting has something to teach you and your own family as well.