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Ask Rene: Our Daughters Don’t Want Us To Move House

stubborn daughter

Hi Rene,

My husband, Rob, has been offered a great promotion with his company but it means having to relocate from San Diego (where we’ve lived for the past 18 years) to Boston.

Rob has been waiting for this opportunity for many years and I’m very proud of him but I am worried what the move could do to our family.

Our two teenage daughters (14 and 16) did not take news of the move well. We thought they would come around but as we get closer to our move date, they have been getting more and more adamant that they don’t want to go.

Neither girl has ever been much of a discipline problem but they have been acting out, staying out past curfew and getting into trouble. My husband says it is just a phase but I’m concerned this might be too big a disruption to their lives. We have lived in this neighborhood for as long as they can remember and they’ve had the same friends their whole lives.

I don’t want my husband to give up this opportunity and I don’t want to strain our relationship but I have been considering staying in San Diego with the girls while he moves. Does that sound like a good compromise or should I have faith that my kids will accept Boston over time?

Kim, San Diego

Hi Kim:

I have a few quick questions for you beginning with ARE YOU KIDDING ME? Who’s in charge over there? Who’s writin’ checks to cover that big mortgage and has been for the last two decades in San Diego of all places? Pull up a chair ‘cause it’s time for the proverbial “Come to Jesus” talk and that includes you too! Here’s what I would do:

EVERYONE MOVES: This would be a very different scenario if the girls were a few years older, say 17 and 19. At 17, the youngest one is about to graduate and splitting up the family for a few months in order to keep things on an even keel heading into college makes some sense. But 14 and 16 means at least four years of bi-coastal living. Can you afford that?

EXPENSE: And speaking of affordability, your suggestion comes with a price and I’m not just talking financial. Rob has spent the last two decades providing for his family, making sure they had the best of everything. Nice house, good schools, all in an effort to give them a leg up on life. Then, after all this, the poor guy gets a shot at the brass ring and the very people he worked so hard for, who HE sacrificed for, are worried about how it’s going to impact THEM?  Wow. For your part, I know what you are trying to do, please everyone with the least amount of distraction. But, the non-verbal message to Rob will be that everyone else is more important than him. Is that what you want him to see? Tend to the primary relationship, which is between you and Rob, so that the other relationships will thrive. In this case, that means putting Rob ahead of the girls.

THE GIRLS: Okay look, I know the teen years are tough; I’m in them myself and they are not for the faint of heart. The dirty, little secret is sometimes we, as parents, go along to get along because we simply don’t have the energy to debate and that’s what nearly every conversation becomes. But this is one of those times you’re going to have to gird your loins for battle. I think it is important to hear them out, let them know you appreciate their concerns and remind them that you do understand (after all, you were young once then stand your ground. If you give in here, well, you’ve shown them that all they have to do to get their way is to throw a fit and act like insolent, spoiled brats, a bad precedent to set.

I think it might help if you get them excited by giving them, even just a little say over some aspect of the move. Maybe as a family you can check out what neighborhoods would be best for everyone, keeping in mind you and Rob have the final say. Maybe ask them what they’d like to have in a new house, how they’d like to decorate their rooms and foster a little excitement that way. If they’re involved in extra-curricular activates, check those out online.

Remember, too Kim, social media has turned the big world, into a tiny neighborhood.  Your girls, instead of texting, tweeting, video chatting with friends from the opposite end of the sofa will now do it from the other side of the country.  And like the Girl Scout song says, they will make new friends and keep the old. But they’ll also learn the invaluable lesson that they are PART of a family, not the driver and they don’t get to make decisions that impact those family members who pay the bills, unless of course, they’re willing to take over that responsibility.

Good luck, mommy!

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