PCS season is coming but have you asked your child THE question?
Whether this is your first, fifth, or fifteenth move, there is one question every parent should ask before a permanent change of station (PCS) move. It’s one that shouldn’t be asked on-the-go, but one that you need to put some thought into before asking.
Whether you want to know or not, you need to ask your child how they feel about the move.
Moving is a fact of life for many military families but that doesn’t mean it is “normal” for your kids. They may see it as a big disruption and place blame on the military or you for “messing up” their life. Depending on the age of your child, moving has different implications.
Younger kids may only know they are moving far away from what is familiar to them. School age kids may worry about losing friends they have come to know. Older kids think about opportunities lost, like a spot on a travel team or the possibility to continue at a school they love.
Parents get busy when orders come but have you asked your child:
How do you feel about this move?
Maybe you avoid the question because you don’t want to know the answer. Are you afraid they will say, “I hate it!” Or “I don’t want to do it!” Or “I’m not going!” Or maybe they will tell you that they can’t wait to move (but you’re suspicious that they don’t mean it). Maybe this move is one they are looking forward to or one that means going to a place they can’t wait to live. Or maybe the question will be met with silence or “it’s fine.”
Either way, taking the time to sit down and talk about their feelings about the move is important. You will be slowing down in what is often a fast paced time to say: I see you. You are important. And your opinion matters.
If you don’t get a response or just a quick “I’m fine,” you may need to ask the question again later. Or wait for a response. It may come at the moment you least expect it.
Even though a military move is often not a choice and cannot be changed, parents should listen to their child’s opinion and try to make adjustments to accommodate their concerns.
Worried about losing friends? What can you do together to make sure you stay in touch?
Concerned about making it onto a new team? Let’s contact a coach where we are moving and see what we can learn about the team at our new home.
Sad to leave behind the familiar? Let’s start working on learning about our new home together so it is familiar to us when we get there.
Don’t understand why we move so much? Let’s talk about it.
So often our children feel a lack of control when they are caught up in a move.
By taking the time to:
* ask what they are feeling/thinking
* validate their concerns as important
* make a plan to address them
…we are giving them a place in the process. Parents can make a young child feel more secure through reassuring talks. Elementary age kids can make their own moving checklist. Older kids can take ownership of researching teams and schools.
Don’t assume your chid is used to moving or is just fine with it. Take the time to ask the question and then take the time to listen for their response. It may not come in the form of words but tears or excitement or a held hand when the moving truck pulls up to your house.