Child Caring

High school junior balking at family move. It's hard to blame her

Do you think it is right to take your daughter away from all that she knows and move her to Houston? She honestly is refusing to go because she has a boyfriend that is "her life". She doesn't want to go unless he goes. She will a senior next year and plans to move back home if we move and live in small town USA until she dies. What should we do? This is really hard to talk to her about because she isn't listening to me about anything. HELP.

From: Andrea, Princess Anne, TX

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Dear Andrea,

Any high school student will tell you that senior year is the worst time ever to make a kid move. Junior year is next. Honestly? I don't disagree. I know teens can be incredibly ego-centric; you and I both know know this boyfriend may not last another two weeks let alone two more years; and, yes, there could be significant advantages to living in a city like Houston over small town USA.

Your job right now isn't to get your daughter to listen to you, it's for you to listen to her. Acknowledge to her that this is a big deal. Stop trying to sell her. Just listen with an open mind. Then, together, make a list of options and weigh the pros and cons. It sounds like there are two parents in your family; can one of you stay behind with her? Can she live with a friend's family and visit your family on weekends? What if she were to move with you, give it a trial period (a set amount of time that you both agree to, more than a month but less than three)? What about promising weekends with the boyfriend? What other concrete plans could you make to help her with the transition?

This kind of conversation hopefully will help her to:
1. See you as an ally, not an enemy;
2. Feel she has some control over her life;
3. Objectively weigh options. Consider costs, distance, how much she'd miss the rest of the family -- all the practical factors -- and keep your bias out of it for this conversation.

It's not that the decision deserves to be hers entirely but this not a small deal and a rational conversation (or two or three) hopefully will help preserve your relationship. No matter what gets decided, this will be hard for all of you. I've known families who have temporarily separated to avoid a teen having to move in senior year and I know of families where an unhappy teen went along relatively happily (because the distance was too great to straddle) once he felt he had a choice.

Readers: do you have been there/done that comments on either side of this issue?