Should You Teach Consistency Or Adaptability When Parenting? (REVISED for better reading)
“Moving House Boxes Mean Buying New Home And Relocating” by Stuart Miles via www.freedigitalphotos.ne
When I was young, we moved a lot. Approximately 8 times in about 5 years.
I was always the new kid.
I attended different schools often and it never felt good to me. I will never forget trying to adjust, and then getting my desk dumped out by a *blankety-blank* teacher who didn’t like that I forgot my homework at home. Granted, I was struggling being the new kid again, and actually did not forget the homework at home…but she didn’t need to humiliate me (it didn’t help anything). She could’ve counseled me. As I digress, it reminds me -and you- that not everyone is meant to teach.
I vowed that when I was an adult (a parent) I'd never put my kids through moving so much. And for the most part I haven’t. But I wanted to make a big change after our divorce, and while I was afraid to put them through what I’d gone through as a child, I still needed to leave the area that I grew up in (and the place they were born).
So, with my courage in hand, I made the decision to change our lives. But I made sure to do it with care.
After our marital split, we stayed put homeschooling and remained in our family home for a couple of years. Later on, once the divorce was complete and it had sunk in with the kids (basically when I felt that we were all emotionally stable) we chose to make the move almost half way across the country.
The wait proved to be the right thing to do. They faired perfectly, and the move was fun and we planted new roots in the Cleveland area. The only complaints were how 'Mommy didn’t bring our rocking horses’. To this day I’ve not lived it down (isn’t it great how good kids’ memories are). I told them that with a 26’ moving truck stuffed to the gills, believe me, they weren’t the only one leaving a few things behind; the door barely shut on that thing.
Honestly, if that's all they recall bad about that move, then I’ve done good!
Another change? Circumstances brought us to attend public school. Well, during this situation my children were attending two different school systems in two different states (long LONG story) and I knew this was bad for them, and they felt like the childhood me; the new kids all the time. So, we fought hard to get advocacy to plant our roots in one school system (and one state).
Our long term roots would be planted, and we've remained in the same school system for the last 6+ years. I see the same parents and they see the same kids, week after week, and year after year; it's the same families and friends that we talk to, hang out with, and work along side of. It’s stability and consistency and it’s good for the child.
We all know there is a yin and yang to things. So, on the other hand, the Type A person that I’ve always been, I think my idea of teaching my kids about consistency has sometimes made it rough for them. Too rigid is not good and it took me years (and these experiences) to realize flexibility and change can also be beneficial; it teaches adaptability and it's a crucial part of child development.
The Bottom Line:
Kids need to understand (and be okay with) how life can bring things they don’t expect, don’t like and may not want. It helps them learn how to adjust.
Too much change, kids feel unstable, unsure, distrusting.
Too little, they get comfortable, spoiled and easily agitated if things don’t go their way.
Neither is positive.
It’s all about balance.
And, honestly, I’d have to say that if there's any one part of change my kids have had to handle that was quite helpful, I think it was moving.
Why, after what I’ve been through as a kid, would I think it’s a blessing for my kids to move?
1. They learned how to make new friends
2. They learned that the world doesn’t stay the same
3. They learned that family, not stuff (or a house), is what’s important
4. They learned how to fit into new groups, work with new teachers
5. They learned who you are is not about where you live; you're the same person no matter your locale
6. They leaned how to be comfortable with change
In addition to those things, my kids will not have to struggle like some, who in their 30’s, 40’s or 50’s, find themselves emotionally and psychologically distraught if their parents pack up and sell the family home they grew up in and move to a retirement condo in Florida (which by the way they’ve got every right to).
Change, and sometimes moving, are a part of life. I’m so glad that I had so many supportive folks telling me their own crazy moving, storage and house renovation stories. It made me realize that my expectations didn’t need to be so set in stone, so rigid and so permanent… change was going to be good.