Moving to a New State with a 12 Year Old

Updated on April 13, 2015
K.V. asks from Petaluma, CA
18 answers

Our family is moving to a new state next year ( job) we have lived in the same town/neighborhood since both my girls were born. They are now 10 and 12. My ten year old is very excited, my 12 year old not so much. She is completely against it and cries whenever it is talked about. She loves it here and loves her friends etc. Any advice on how to make the transition better for her?

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So What Happened?

Thank you so much everyone for the responses, all of them. I don't feel so alone now. We are going to drop it for a few months until we get closer. It has been such a hard subject for her and it breaks my heart, her fears are also my fears so it freaks me out as well. She does have a BFF here, and we will for sure do FaceTime and maybe at that time let her get onto Instagram to keep in touch with her current world. Thank you!!!

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answers from Anchorage on

Be patient and understanding with her, but do not give her hope that her unhappiness will mean you do not move. Talk with her gently about how sometimes life means change. But mostly you will just have to wait and let her see for herself that the new location is not so bad. I would also let her get Facebook or something so she can keep in touch with her friends.

4 moms found this helpful

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answers from Boise on

Oh, my... about 1 1/2 yrs. ago, I think I wrote nearly the same question!! All my kids were brought home from the same hospital to the same house and lived there their entire lives. My girls were about the same age as yours are and I had a Kindergarten to boot! Talk about disturbing the balance of life!!

My best advice is to be patient and open to her. Try your best to not force the good things about the move. I mean, don't be sooo much into the, "Oh, the malls are so big there", or "The parks are beautiful!" or "You are going to looove the new school!" I mean, it's fine to talk about where you're moving, but don't try to over-sell it. It will make her resent the move even more and possibly you. I know this from experience.

As I said before, be open. She's going to be emotional and angry and sad. Eventually, this will subside, and she'll hopefully want to talk with you. Be sure she's able to Skype and call her friends. If she's on social media, let her be in contact. That was a life-saver for us! Kids actually have it much better than we did when moved, don't they?

Last Summer we allowed my oldest daughter's friend to come out here for nearly a month, and then we let both girls go there to stay with different friends for a week. They were amazed at how the town was so different from how they remembered it! They came back home with a new found appreciation and they actually like living here more than their hometown.

They are still in constant contact with most of their friends and we are planning on them going back again this coming Summer for a short vacation with friends. :)

Good luck, and things will settle, I promise.


8 moms found this helpful


answers from Amarillo on

A year is a long way to think about moving for a child. Take a break from discussing the move right now.

When you are about three months out it would be okay to let people know that it is time to start packing up. Yes your daughter will fee bad about leaving her friends behind but there are more to meet and do things with. Make this move like a chapter in a book and that it will be an adventure to find things to do that were/are similar what she does now.

I am retired military and we would move every three to four years to a different location. So if you didn't like where you were you knew that within a certain time frame you would be gone. If your neighbor was not a good one in the housing unit, one of you would be gone soon and all would be fine.

Change is the only constant in life. It might be a good lesson for her for the future so that she can adapt to things in life. Just be positive and all will work out fine.

Take plenty of pictures of where you are now for a scrapbook. Do let her help pick out colors for her new room. Keep both involved in the move when it happens. Skype and email will keep the old friends in contact.

the other S.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

I'd drop the move talk for awhile. Let her have time to process and let it sink in in her own time. Allow her space, and allow her to feel what she needs to. 12 is a hard age, as she has already formed attachments, and not to mention the going through puberty part!

As it draws nearer, I'd ensure she spends enough time with her friends. Give a party , get her an album she can put pictures and addresses/phone numbers in. With technology being the way it is, she will be able to stay better in touch people.

How far is the move?

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

Some great advice already.....

Can she come up with a bucket list of activities she'd like to do with her best friends before she leaves and take lots of pictures of those events / times together so she can have the reminders later when she will undoubtedly be sad and lonely during the making new friends phase.

At 12, if she has a very close, or best friend already, those bonds can last a lifetime. I made my best friend when I was just 13 and we moved away and we wrote and we still live faraway, but I still consider her my best friend and we vacation together, and fly to visit one another. And I'm 55 this year...I'd say our friendship has withstood the test of time and distance.

P.S. I have moved 39 times in my life, 18 with kids. My kids are very well-adjusted, as every teacher always points out to me during P/T conferences. Stay focused on how positive and fun and exciting a new move can be and will be and there will be so many new places and people to meet and then I hope you help them invite new friends over for hang time, movies, popcorn, art, etc.

OH, I have more helpful recommendation....before you move, sign up on a national moving company website, like Mayflower, put in your estimated move dates, and they will send you monthly / weekly reminders about what you should be doing, with regards to packing / planning / utilities / etc. In addition to the basics, they include tips about making the move easier for kids and I followed many of their tips.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on


I'm sorry this is tough. I'm a military brat who moved a lot when I was a kid. I was always excited about it because my parents were excited about it. Even after I married military? I loved it! New places, new things!!

Stay positive. LISTEN to her. If you aren't moving for a year? I would STOP talking about it. I would also ensure that you are NOT moving mid-school year - that is hard!!

As the move gets closer? You need to listen to your daughter's fears and WHY she doesn't want this. Her feelings ARE valid. She also needs to hear YOU and WHY this move MUST take place.

Unlike when I was a kid? There's SKYPE and e-mail and cell phones!! I had to WRITE letters to friends when we moved. Let her know her real friends will keep in touch. You can also remind her that Gig Harbor and Portland are 2 hours apart. That's a weekend visit. It's TOTALLY doable.

Find things about Portland that are similar about where you will be moving - the school's activities - the house you'll be moving to - the neighbors - how many kids are in the area??

Get her involved as it gets closer. Pick out decorations for her new room. Find classes that she enjoys in WA in OR - and have her go with you to see them - it's a 2 hour drive - but why not do it?? So she can see that things aren't going to be "BAD".

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

i totally understand how hard this is, for you and for your tween. we moved out of a neighborhood packed full of friends for a little farmette in the sticks. my older was fine with it, my younger heartbroken. that boy is the oddball in our family of introverts- he can't get enough of time with kindred spirits!
i think the trick to get 'em over the hump is to make sure they feel heard and understood, but not to dance the disappointment dance with them. it's very, very tempting to oversell the new and downplay the old, but what i found is that doing that just makes them feel as if you (stupid adult) just don't get it.
so really, just listen. don't try to sweep away the hurt and worry, just let her express it. don't puff up and polish all the fun new things she's going to experience, but do present them simply IF she asks or it arises naturally in the conversation.
moves happen. it's tough. we moved from bermuda to laurel MD when i was 15. gah! talk about culture shock! i cried a lot.
and then i started exploring my new neighborhood, made some new friends, adjusted to a new school (a huge, huge, change from a private girls' school in the british school system) and got on with my life.
your daughter will too.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

You're moving next year; many months from now. Why are you talking about the move now? You're asking her to adjust long before the move. Let her enjoy her life now instead of asking her to imagine life in the future.

Since the move is months away are you positive the move will happen as you plan for it now. Life can be so unpredictable.

If you're talking about the next school year, I still suggest you stop talking about it. Let both girls manage their goodbyes in their own way. Perhaps the reluctant daughter would like to ignore the move and finish the year without saying goodbye. Encourage her to spend time with her friends in the usual way. Then approach the move later, closer to the move.

Some of us like to think and plan ahead. Others live more in the present.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

If it's possible to go visit and get a feel for the place, that would help (the fear of the unknown). We didn't move that far, but when we moved areas, we took kids to the new school for a visit, drove around, checked out the parks, libraries, etc. just so they knew there was some pluses to moving.

The staying in contact part is big - my son stays in contact with a couple of friends that moved away - I think it was really helpful until they met new friends to know they had someone to text/chat with online.

Try not to say "I know it will be hard" too much. I started doing that (trying to be compassionate) then realized I was freaking one of mine out. So I just changed my tune and made it sound like it was going to be great (which it was).

I also let them pick their new bedroom colors, and décor (new themes).

Just stuff to help visualize how it will and still be a reflection of them.

Good luck :)

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on

This is going to be very hard on her. If you had the opportunity to go to the new place to pick out housing, check out the schools, vacation there, etc...she could make a new friend or two before the move so she'd feel less like the ties to her old life were completely being cut forever and always.

Out of all my friends that moved due to jobs only one of the kids, out of a hundred or more, only one set of friends survived the move. They still didn't last past adulthood when they each got married and started their own families.

The relationships she is leaving are over, they might last for a while but they will be changed. She's in mourning. Treat it like that and see if she can work through the stages of grief over losing her whole life up to now. I know that sounds dramatic, that's my point. She's a teen/tween and she IS dramatic. Life is dramatic at that time in all kids lives.

Help her mourn her losses and try to give her a good foundation for the move.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

The trick is to look forward instead of looking back.
This is a new adventure with plenty of new discoveries to be made!
If you make a point of thinking of all the old comfortable things you'll be missing it's easy to slip into a perpetual pity party for yourself.
The long and the short of it is your 12 yr old will have to adapt.
She can fight it and be miserable (not a good attitude when trying to make new friends) or she can work with you and be, if not positive, at least open minded about the transition.

In the long run - friends come and go.
The friends that meant so much to me in high school I haven't had contact with in 35 years - we've all grown up and moved on.
Your 12 yr old is crying over something that will eventually go away anyway even if she stayed put.
She has <give her a time period - a few days/weeks maybe> to feel sorry for herself and then she'd better be working on a better attitude.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

Don't talk about it, if possible?

My kids only lived in two locations. When we moved here, my daughter was 8, and she cried often at school for the first semester, but ultimately lived a very nice life here. The school counselor was very helpful. Now that she's grown up, she's very happy that she grew up in our current location.

Your daughter will be okay in the end.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Las Vegas on

Well if your resident is gig harbor, I can see why... looks gorgeous.. and too, it's tough to leave a place where you feel secure..
Is it possible for you and daughter to take a trip together to the new state, spend some mom and daughter time and check out the surroundings.. ahead of time, look into what there is to do and so forth..
maybe if she spent a few days there, it might help..
it's worth a try..

2 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

We recently did the same albeit with an 11 year old from WA to CA. What has helped my 11 year old to cope with and actually enjoy the move is the fact that we moved out of and away from more or less constant rain so she's able to be outdoors all the time without issue. Also, she has maintained contact with all of her friends she grew up with from WA whilst making new ones here. She was not enthused about the move at all but knew it was something we had to do. We've been in our new place for about six months now and while she misses her friends she doesn't actually miss where we previously lived.

I will say if you're moving away from family it might be tough but reassure her that family can visit/she can visit. That was not the case in our situation so thankfully not an issue. Keep communication open and allow her to have time to process it all --- always let her know that no matter her thoughts and feelings on everything that they are valid and she doesn't need to feel bad/sad/upset that she's not okay with it while others are. This enabled my daughter to get through her emotions with less anxiety and stress.

I wish you the best.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

This is such a tough age for a move and it gets worse as they get farther into the teen years! First show empathy. Tell her you understand how she feels and wish you could make it better. If it's not too far to drive why not schedule a long weekend trip there with a couple of her BFF's and be tourists in the new area. It will help her and her friends visualize the area. Fortunatley we now have modern technology like skype and social media which will allow the girls to be in constant contact the weeks after the move is made. Allow / encourage her to be involved in the move, the house-hunting, etc. Treat her as if she's older than she is - but expect more too. If she wants to house hunt then she has to do some online research. encourage her to do some online research about the schools or school districts where you're going. Allow her to plan a weekend after the move with her friends - either them coiming to you or you going "back home".

I have a good friend who moved to another city about 5 hours from here - her then 14 year old daughter was devastated. In the first 6 months at least once a month they were either coming back or a friend or two was going there. But it stopped on it's own. Now, 2 years later they had the opportunity to move back here and my friend actually gave her daugher the option (since her life had been so shaken up - divorce happened in there too). her daughter decided against moving back. They ahve another 2 years of high school and after that my friend intends to move back - but for now she and her daughter are staying where they are.

As an adult you know that she will adjust and make new friends, get involved in stuff when she gets there - but from her perspective "life is over". She will come to her own conclusion eventually - just be supportive, encourage her to get involved in the things she likes to do in her childhood town - and she will adjust beautifully.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Wausau on

The only thing I can think of is to make sure she can stay connected. My older son's best friend moved to another state but they've been in contact online. They play online games together, they email, the Wii U does video chat, etc.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Austin on

We moved from Iowa to Texas when our oldest was 9, so she was more like your youngest...... Our children were 9, 7, 5, and 6 months, so we treated it like a grand, new adventure!

We had a big going away party before we left, and each of the kids got to invite several of their friends.

It is tough on the older ones when you move. I agree that if possible, make a short trip for them to see the area you will be moving to, so they can see some of the neat things available.

Also, be sure to remind her that she will be able to still be in contact with her friends. She may be too young for traditional social media (facebook, etc.), but hopefully there will be other ways she can stay in contact with her friends?

Ultimately, however, she has to realize that even though it is hard, parents have to be the ones to make those decisions for what is best for the family.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

I had to move when I was 11 to a different part of the country. Part of it is that in middle school, it's hard to move or think that a move is good or think that you'll find new friends. I would make sure that her BFF has some way to communicate with her, understand that it's going to be rough on her, and help her find her way. If she knows nothing about the area, research it together. Visit if you can. You said it will be next year, so she has time to get used to the idea.

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