― Rodney Dangerfield
Moving, when accompanied by other significant challenging scenarios (e.g. divorce, death, financial struggles) can indeed have a significantly negative impact on a child’s life. It is important to be mindful of these potential impacts and seek help and support for your children during tough times, particularly if they are also accompanied by the jarring transition of a move. Overlooked by the study, are moves that are for a ‘good’ reason like a new job or promotion. It’s worth noting that not all moves are the same and that choosing to move your family for a career opportunity does not destine your children to a life of unhappiness. Despite the dark cloud that this survey places over relocation, parental involvement and support while moving – especially when done for an exciting new opportunity – can mitigate some of the downsides, allowing children and teens to reap the plentiful benefits of moving. In fact, according to a “Psychology Today” article by Nancy Darling, Ph.D. and Professor of Psychology at Oberlin College, “When parents support each other and work hard to make the move as easy for the themselves and their kids as possible, negative effects are minimized.”
Moving beyond studies to personal experiences, we’ll let our President, Sara Boehm, take it from here:
“I have personally and in my our work here certainly found moving to be stressful and, at times, lonely. Frequent childhood moves created instability in my life that was difficult both emotionally and mentally. But looking back on it, I learned a lot and realized how much these moves shaped many of the great parts of my personality. I wanted to share some of the benefits that I (and others I have interviewed who moved as children) have found to be true in the midst of the challenging times of moving. We cover these topic areas in more depth in The Essential Moving Guide for Families, but they are worth highlighting at a high level here:”
- Instills confidence – Making it through a move successfully (settling in, making friends, re-building your life) instills a sense of accomplishment as well as the confidence that you can make it through tough situations stronger than you began. Children who have moved (and, as noted above, have the benefit of that being the only major life change they are experiencing at the time) often report feelings of increased confidence immediately following this experience (and for years to come). They were faced with something challenging, and they know they had made it through successfully.
- Increases your ability to handle uncertainty and new situations – Moving is an opportunity to deal with change, discomfort, and ‘newness.’ Change and ‘newness’ is challenging and yet constant throughout life. The more you are able to practice and become comfortable with adapting to change, the better off you’ll be throughout life’s regular twists and turns.
- Helps you gain self-awareness – “The days you are uncomfortable are the days you learn the most about yourself” – Mary L. Bean. There’s nothing like being on your own without the comforts of habits and familiarity to learn about yourself. You learn what is important to you, how your respond to challenges, and, most importantly, you learn that you are in control of how you think and respond to tough times and that you can change and improve your situation.
- Provides opportunities for a fresh start – Every change brings a new start. New chances to try again, to reinvent yourself, to experiment, to practice, and to take risks toward self-improvement. This is one of the most refreshing and exciting parts of moving. When you move as a child or as an adult, you are given a fresh start to use however you wish. This clean slate is a gift, and when you can keep this optimistic attitude, you are also practicing and benefiting from the power of positive thinking.
- Teaches you how to make friends and intentionally connect with others – When I have surveyed people on the benefits of relocating, the number one area I see jump out among people who have not moved is that they believe people who have moved have a better handle on knowing how to make friends. Practice makes perfect, and there is nothing like moving to put you in a position where you have to take the initiative, find people with common interests, and begin the process of building a friendship. It truly is a life skill worth mastering while you’re young, as it will benefit you for years to come.
No picture of moving is complete if it only focuses on either the negatives or on the positives. Moving is much more nuanced and challenging than that. There are certainly low points, but there are also amazing triumphs and opportunities as well. If you find yourself moving as an adult or moving your family and supporting your children throughout this process, acknowledge the challenges and identify coping mechanisms to help make it through. Remember, though, to appreciate it and make the most of the benefits moving has to offer as well! When you look back on this time in your lift, the sad memories will be accompanied by some truly wonderful life and character shaping moments.
 “Moving is Tough For Kids,” Nancy Darling Ph.D., Psychology Today, 7/11/2010,