Teenagers

Moving with Teenage Daughters

Teenagers don’t exactly have a reputation for displaying the ultimate in flexibility. They have built their lives around their friends and readily become accustomed to the life they feel they have built. When something intrusive like moving blows their world apart, they often don’t respond with a great deal of enthusiasm. Moving with teenage daughters can be a challenge, but one with a large reward.

By the time a child reaches their later teens, they have developed a social world outside of the family. However, that world is more than just their social world, it is their support system. Whether that support system is healthy or not is an entirely different matter altogether. To them, their support system is irreplaceable.

When the news of moving far away blows a teenage girl’s world apart, there are several different ways that a parent can choose to handle the crisis. And yes, to her, it is a crisis. We can minimize their feelings, and tell them to stop being so dramatic. We can allow then to play our guilt strings and manipulate their way into having everything they want. We can realize we are teaching them valuable life lessons in the process of moving, allow them to express their feelings, and help them to understand that there are new opportunities waiting for them. Sometimes, you have to look really hard when you’re moving to a region that you aren’t even all that excited about. However, there are bound to be opportunities for a new start or different experiences regardless of the region.

Teenagers believe that distance between friends ultimately means the end of a friendship. This is simply not true. Teaching them through example that their friendships can still remain positive even though they are moving is a life lesson they may need a few times in their life. Things don’t stay static, and change is bound to happen, and of course, people have to adjust.

When it is possible, ask your daughter her opinion. While chances are pretty good that you will receive a negative opinion, asking it anyway makes lets her know that her thoughts and feelings still matter. She may very well surprise you. When choosing a house, or other big decision, the simple fact that you are asking her opinion means that you aren’t discounting her.

It’s not uncommon for a teenage girl to be leaving behind a boyfriend that she is already fully aware you are not fond of. Commentary that lends itself to how better off your daughter is going to be or how relieved you will be when the two of them are separated is really not going to help strengthen the bonds between you and your teenager. Until she makes new friends, her family is all she has. Starting the move off by mimicking her broken heart, perhaps her first broken heart is not likely to be her first choice.

Teenager daughters by nature tend to be complicated. It’s not an intentional desire to drive you mad, but an inherit right of being a teenage girl. Her feelings about moving are likely to change as fast as her wardrobe. Keeping on top of her emotions is going to seem like an impossible task and you’re the butt of a very complicated joke. Teenage girls just tend to be like that. Often, they have so much going on inside their busy little brains that they are feeling as though they are the butt if the same complicated joke. Despite the fact that it may very well become a chore, it is still important that you are making an effort to stay in tune with her feelings.

Once a move has been made, a mild depression is normal, however severe depression is not. A little melancholy over missing friends and even a broken heart over a boyfriend should be expected as well as respected. Teenagers live in the complicated world of being almost grown up, but not feeling like they have nearly enough control over their lives. Moving away is evidence of the lack of control they have. A parent’s expectation that they deal with their emotions and start everything anew if evidence of how grown up they are expected to be. Until she has a chance to build a new support system, you’re it. Bring her as close as you can to the realization that having friends both near and far is special, show her the new opportunities which are undoubtedly awaiting, and respect the way she feels, even if her feelings change by the hour.

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4 comments

Claire May 29, 2015 at 11:14 PM

We are moving home after being expats for 6 years. My daughter is 13 and is very angry at us for making this decision despite her making it clear she wanted to stay overseas. I understand her anger and am trying to help her deal with it to no avail.
We are offering her the opportunity to choose her school, with some guidance. Not interested. We have said we will finally get the long awaited (by her) puppy. Not interested. She just says “I hate xxxxx and don’t want to move back there”.
How can we try and move things forward more positively? We have talked about choosing our attitudes and she says she is going to stay angry and that is her choice. Sigh……….

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Tracy Smith June 27, 2018 at 11:57 PM

Hi Claire,
I can’t help answer your question but my husband and I are genuinely considering moving from Yorkshire to Northern Ireland, our daughters are 13 & 14 and the youngest is adamant that she will not move. Our move is purely to benefit my husband & I (we loved Ireland on a recent visit and can afford our dream home there complete with paddock & stable etc, something totally unaffordable to us here in Yorkshire) so I’m feeling extremely guilty about the idea of moving and the tears and upset it’s going to cause, it’s affecting my decision whether to do it or not. How are you getting along with your daughter?

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Claire May 29, 2015 at 11:17 PM

PS. I should have said there is no boyfriend. And her social life outside of school is very quiet. So the friendships she has are primarily based at school and somewhat online…mainly through Instagram.

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Colin May 3, 2019 at 1:09 PM

Old but I will comment anyway for those who read it for current issues. Let me begin by telling you that I was – and still am – fairly inflexible about moving around. I was not known for having the best attitude, either. In fact, your daughter’s answers sound exactly like mine. I moved to another place for 6 yrs to attend uni and made no more than three friends max, only one of whom I still speak with today. My brother on the other hand, went to uni, had a group of 15 or more friends who still congregate annually over summer, and have attended weddings, etc. Of course, I also hate cell phones and social media. I don’t have social media but I do have a cell phone – which I happily ignore for all but 10 minutes per day. lol.

So, how do you handle this situation? First of all, don’t use bribery. Do continue to offer her the chance to have input (if she is receptive) about the house you choose, her school (if possible), activities, etc. – but don’t push it. She is declining to participate now because, given that this isn’t her choice at all, your inclusion is nothing more than a consolation prize for a game she never wanted to play. Or, like being arrested (generally not a choice we’d make for ourselves) and then being given the option of orange or black for your jumpsuit, with a smiling police officer who’s trying to make you feel at home.

Give her time to be angry and frustrated. If she becomes rude, you can simply tell her, “I realize you’re upset about this move, and I wish I could help you through it, but I can’t help you until you view this in a positive light and give this move a fair chance. I don’t mind you being angry, but you don’t have permission to take it out on me or anyone else.”

The physical transition – as in the leaving A to go to B – will be the hardest part for both of you. She will realize it’s real and that she is moving, and will most likely make a huge fuss the whole way there. This is where you have to hold your ground and deal with her negativity, and remind her that she has the right to sit and sulk if she wants, ignore people, etc, but can’t start hitting people (or anything else extreme).

Once she gets there, she will most likely dig her heels in further (even if you don’t think she can get any further) and probably refuse to make friends, talk to neighbours, participate in activities, participate at school, do homework, etc. This is the stage where you not only have to enforce the “It’s fine if you want to be stubborn but you can’t do anything extreme” rule, but also be care to specify what you are punishing her for.

Example A

You’ve moved, the house is set up more or less, and no matter how nice the neighbours are, or how friendly other kids are, she refuses to talk to them (at least beyond one word answers without reciprocal questions). She has a cell phone you want her to carry around, hoping she’ll get nos. of friends to call but she has no numbers in it, or she has one or two by coercion, and she either leaves it lying on the floor or ignores it. She is not winning people over, to say the least. Her grades are falling due to failure to participate and not doing homework. The teachers are concerned but she refuses to talk to anyone, usually resorting to giving the middle finger or telling you off.

Now you see her report card: C’s and D’s only. Her teachers reiterate that she won’t pass until she participates and does homework.

What do you do?

Recommendation would be to punish her for the grades. Do whatever punishment you would normally do for such and reassure her that her punishment is a result of her failing grades. Don’t remind her that, “if she had participated she could’ve gotten B’s and C’s at least, and made some friends. I can’t believe you’re still carrying this bad attitude!” She knows this… you’d just be rubbing it in. Just deliver the punishment and let her figure out how to get the grades she needs without caving into friendships, or figure out how to cave into friendships without feeling the guilt of failure to herself. As the homework is probably a solo activity, I guess that’s pretty straightforward. 🙂

Now, the other way it could go is this: you get on the plane/in the car to leave A for B, and he, realizing that the move is happening, breathes a sigh of relief because he can finally let go of his determination to be angry. We’re our own worse enemy, you see, and sometimes it’s just a matter of realizing that once a transitory stage has started, there isn’t much point in continuing to wallow in misery and anger. It doesn’t mean that a 180 will occur, either, but you’re likely to see a very quiet, angry child in this scenario. He may now thinking of the things he has to look forward to and deciding how to present himself. Or he may be thinking of ways to keep his distance from everyone/how to present himself so that no one will talk to him. He will keep his guard up and his walls high (for a good, long while), but instead of being deliberately mean or angry, he’ll just be very distant while he gets used to the new place.

Now, this is really important. Recognize first, your personality type, then theirs. If you’re an extrovert who makes friends wherever you go, isn’t shy, are very trusting of people in general and an open book, so to speak – you’re at the end of the spectrum. If he’s an introvert who doesn’t make friends easily, as he doesn’t trust people very well, and is private and keeps his guard up with everyone, then he’s on the other end of the spectrum. You might be tempted to tell him “Snap out of it and talk to someone!” while he’d be tempted to tell you to “Shut up so I can hear my thoughts for five seconds.” I have a real-life example for you!

Here’s me vs my mom in a grocery store:
(True acct. from a month ago)

Mother: (sees someone else she knows, talks for 30 minutes). I go around and get my groceries, pay for them, and come back to her. She asks why I paid for mine. (Well, I’m an adult, for one… with a job.) I said, “I’m ready to leave so I just paid.”, without even saying ‘hi’ to the person she was talking to, which I didn’t even realize I had done.

We then go to the line and she runs into yet another person she knows from wherever. They start talking. I leave to to walk to get an Rx from pharmacy nearby. I return.
“Where did you go?” (She’s still talking to the two people.)
“I went to the pharmacy. You guys always talk a long time.”

So you see, the idea of being extroverted and friendly often conflicts with introversion and needing to recharge our batteries alone. We really aren’t that unfriendly, by the way, we’re just selective with our friendships. While I am obviously, very blunt at times, many others are more polite (if you consider dancing around your point, polite).

You might see that there’s a lot of people trying to get to know him and he’s not opening up to them about himself and think, “Let me tell them about him and then maybe he’ll just give in.” Don’t. Betray. His. Trust. If you do that, you can expect to hear nothing from him for a while, or ever again. You will have to let him do things his way. Why do I say this? I am the introverted scenario. If someone finds out stuff about me – more than I want them to know – I pull away, even if they are accepting and it strengthens their bond to me, whereas my mother, the antithetical opposite, doesn’t trust someone who is private.

Ultimately s/he may never be happy where you move to – and it may be validated. If you were to move me to a small evangelical Christian/Jewish town, I’d never make friends because I’m not into evangelical nonsense. If you moved me to a huge city, I’d never leave the house/apartment because I hate cities. If you moved me to a diverse NORTHERN suburb within a larger area, then I’d eventually be fine. If you move me to the deep south, I’ll be dead from either heat or someone who was packing heat, promoting Canadian gun laws (hint: we’re not allowed to own guns unless you can prove you need one, and it takes six months of a government background search that includes interviews, psychiatric background checks, criminal record chiecks, etc.), because I’ll put a Confederacy sympathizer in their place faster than you can say “Go back to Canada, ‘Libtard’!”. I’d also starve to death. lol

When all else fails, just remember she is making a decision for herself to be angry, and remind her that she can always move back to XYZ when she’s an adult and can afford to do so. Not much else you can do if she’s dead set on her attitude.

One last thought that has little to do with moving, but with relationships in general: Social Media. I hear a lot of youth say:

I have a ton of friends on…

on ….

I do not hear youth say, “I have a ton of friends that I see daily and talk to in person, hang out with, etc.”

The Internet is a great tool for communication but it was not meant to replace face-to-face time with friends. Touching and seeing are key components to having a biologically healthy friendship/relationship, etc. It sounds like your daughter has fallen prey to the “social media” trend of thinking she has a lot of “friends” because she has a lot of “followers” on social media. You might consider, if your child falls into this category, removing them from social media once you get to the new place, telling them to get the phone nos. of the friends who they are leaving, and letting the cards fall where they fall. If they’re truly friends, texts and calling will start to happen. A new phone/new no. might be better, too. If they’re not, they will not be missed. Without social media, they will have to go talk to people in their new place if they want friends and will only have the options of calling, texting or hanging out. 🙂 I don’t think she has as many “friends” as she thinks she does, suffice to say.

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