Q: My husband and I have raised a successful large family with five kids who are launched to college and careers, but our youngest is still in middle school. We have lived in the same rambling house, in the same small town, working in the same careers for the last 25 years. We are ready for a middle-age adventure. Would it be wrong to pack up our youngest and bring her along? Our older kids think it would be unfair to uproot our lives before the baby is grown up, but we want to downsize our home and see some other part of the country while we are still marketable in our professions. We are responsible people and won't do anything terribly spontaneous without careful planning. What do you think? Is this selfish of us?
A: While there's nothing wrong with families choosing to live in the same communities during their entire adult lives, there is much right and healthy about seeking some adventure for both of you and your middle-school child (who, incidentally, is no longer a baby). It's natural for your older children to prefer you not to leave the home and community where they were raised. They may not even want you to sell the home they were brought up in. However, your moving will provide them opportunities for visits, adventure and travel, as well. You haven't mentioned whether they're living in your same community or have branched out, but either way, travel to another location can broaden their perspective on the world. Hopefully they will visit you wherever you are.
In general, it is not harmful for children to move to another community during childhood, so you can reassure your older children of that they don't need to worry about their little sister. In planning for the immediate years ahead, you will want to consider your youngest child's schooling carefully. Middle school is definitely a better time to move than high school. You will want to check for major differences in academic challenge. If the school's significantly more challenging, your child may need some pre-tutoring to catch up in the new school without losing confidence. If the school is considerably easier, she may need some acceleration to maintain her interest in school. She will need some time to adjust to peer issues, but if she becomes involved in extracurricular activities, she will likely find a positive peer group and that could go smoothly. You can also suggest that she stay in touch with former friends through email, phone calls, Skype, summer programs and occasional visits. If you are positive about the move and you all consider it an adventure, it is likely to go well with only a few small problems that are part of everyone's lives. Families often feel closer after a move since your daughter is likely to depend more on family togetherness as she searches for good friends.
For a free newsletter about how moving can be an adventure, send a self-addressed, stamped envelope and note with topic choice for each newsletter to address below. Dr. Sylvia B. Rimm is the director of the Family Achievement Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio, a clinical professor of psychiatry and pediatrics at the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, and the author of many books on parenting. More information on raising kids is available at www.sylviarimm.com. Please send questions to: Sylvia B. Rimm on Raising Kids, P.O. Box 32, Watertown, WI 53094 or [email protected] To read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.