How to Help Your Teenager Adjust to Life in a New CityBy Jess Hutton
Getting your teenager on-board with a big move can be a challenge. It’s hard for them to see the exciting possibilities of a fresh start in the middle of saying goodbye to friends and starting at a new high school. Once the dust settles, it’s important to stay connected to your high schooler as they navigate life in your new city.
The key is to avoid getting so involved that you come off like a neurotic control freak. Here are some practical tips to help you stay involved and encourage your teenager’s success without going overboard.
Before You Move
Fear of the unknown is one of the biggest struggles for high schoolers – not only are they going through physical, social, and relational changes, but now a move has been added to the list. Take the time before you move to sit down with your teen and research the new city. Look for teen-friendly concert venues, reviews of high schools in the area, parks and rec centers, sports leagues, teen music and art programs, and so on. Make a goal of helping them find one activity they love in their current city that they can continue in their new city. Maybe the new city even offers them the opportunity to try something they’ve always wanted to do, like volunteer at a pet rescue, or be a junior staffer at the zoo.
Give Your Teen Some Space
Use the move as a chance to give your teens some private space in your new home, whether that’s in their room or a section of a shared space. Help them decorate and set up areas for studying and socializing. Encourage them to invite new friends over and help them play host with a steady supply of sodas and snacks. Giving them some space to call their own will help them feel more comfortable in their new environment.
Photo by Illusive Photography/Flickr
Encourage Extracurricular Activities
Help your high schooler look into sports, clubs, volunteer programs, and high school activities in their new city that are tied to their interests. If they need a ride to and from practice, offer to chauffer. Sign up to provide snacks or supervision at events, if required. Let your teen and their friends use your home for meetings or gatherings. And if your kid will be competing or performing, be sure you’re there to cheer them on.
Photo by TAMUC/Flickr
Let Your Teen Make Their Own Choices
No one likes feeling like they aren’t in control of their lives. This is especially true for your teen, who may feel like they didn’t have any say in the move. Give them back some of the control over their world, both at home and at school. When choosing their new class schedule, let your teen decide what electives they’ll take and what school activities they want to participate in. If they want to quit band and try drama instead, don’t stand in their way. At home, give your teen some space to make choices about their new bedroom decor. Perhaps they can choose the paint colors in their room or get new bedding and accessories. Finding little ways to give them control shows you respect them and trust their judgment, and it helps them own their part of the move.
Don’t Skip Parent-Teacher Conferences
Your teen might roll their eyes when you ask them about homework or upcoming projects, but they need your support. Learn who your high schooler’s teachers are, how to contact the school, and what each teacher’s classroom expectations are. Even your teen is an honor student, take the time to attend parent-teacher conferences. Your involvement shows you care and lets your kid know you’re available if they need help.
Photo by newtonapple/Flickr
Take Your Teenager Shopping
Use the move and the new school year as an excuse to splurge. Find out what supplies they’ll need for different classes and pick them up together. Help them take an inventory of their closet and then hit the mall for a back-to-school shopping spree. If you moved to a different climate, think about adding winter or beach wear to their wardrobe. This is a great way to show them you are invested in their success, and it doubles as an easy way to spend quality time together.
Photo by Quinn Dombrowski/Flickr
Set a Date
Don’t let your teenager get lost in the shuffle of the move. Set up a weekly date with them where you will grab a bite, see a movie, or veg out in front of the TV together. Making one-on-one time a priority will keep you in tune with what’s going on in their life and give you a chance to really connect.
There is a lot of change that comes along with a move, but you can use this time to reinforce the relationship you have with your teenager. Include them in decisions, let them know their opinion matters, and be there if they need you. Just a little effort will help put you – and your teenager – at ease in your new home.
Featured photo by U.S. Army RDECOM/Flickr