Teen Talk

Teen Talk: Moving during high school brings emotional, logistical conflict

Kelly Richardson
Kelly Richardson Sacramento Bee Staff Photo

HEY KELLY: I’ve had to move around my entire life with my dad’s job. Every time he gets a promotion, it involves us moving and me and my twin brother and sisters having to start all over again with meeting new friends. My parents made us move summer before seventh-grade year and promised that once we started high school we wouldn’t have to move again. Something happened, and we had to move again between our eighth grade and freshman year. My parents said that because we hadn’t started high school yet, it was still OK to leave. Now we are juniors and my dad’s company wants to send him back where we were in eighth grade, so my parents think it’s technically OK because we’ve been there before. They made it seem like a good thing we were going back to Arizona. My dad already left and wants us to move in the middle of the year so we can connect with everyone again in Arizona before our senior year and so my brother can try out for their baseball team.

Kelly, my brother and our younger sisters and I don’t want to move again. We’re tired of it. We like where we’re at and we all have good friends. I love my youth group and my brother loves his baseball team. We want my mom to just stay with us so we can finish high school without moving friends again. My mom said that would be OK, but my dad says no way. He says that he’s not spending the next year and a half on an airplane every weekend coming home and missing all the things that happen during the week. We feel like we’ve sacrificed for him all these years and it’s time he sacrifices for us. My brother and I even talked to our neighbors, who offered to let us stay with them but my dad said absolutely not will someone else raise us. It’s getting to where my brother and I can’t stand our dad and want nothing to do with him. He’s so selfish and, as usual, he wants everything to be about him.

Do you have any advice on how to get my dad to see that letting us stay here for our senior year is right, since we’ve moved our whole lives for him? Please help me. This is like something that could change my life forever.


DEAR ERIN: As the proud daughter of a soldier, I get it. I know the pain involved in moving around your entire childhood. I went to six schools before seventh grade and was constantly having to make new friends. On one hand it was very difficult and challenging, but on the other hand it gave me life skills that helped make me the person I am. Rarely now do I meet a stranger, and going into new situations does not intimidate me. I was able to take my history and pull a lot of good tools from my situation as I’m sure you will as well.

Where your situation gets dicey, though, is that you are in the middle of high school. That’s such a hard time to move. You have established your friend groups, teams and outside activities that you like. You feel connected to your home, your school and your community. That is a great thing, except the fact your dad lives in another state.

Communication will be the key to whatever your dad decides. A word of advice: Don’t tell your dad he owes it to you to stay here. Bad choice of words. Saying that could make him hunker down even harder on the issue because he will feel unappreciated and disrespected. Choose better words that relay your concern and sadness, not your anger and frustration.

Sit down with your parents and your brother. Have a composed list of the reasons you want to stay and finish high school here. Keep to the facts like, “We feel connected to our school and friends and think it would be so hard to start over again,” or, “We feel hurt that you promised us we would get to stay and finish high school once we started.” Be understanding of your father’s position – he might not have much control over where his company sends him. He might feel caught between his family that he loves and his job that pays the bills. Showing compassion to the position he is in is important.

Be ready to share different solutions. Could Mom stay just until you finish? Are you willing to go to Arizona once or twice a month so dad doesn’t have to do all the traveling? Is there anyone your parents would trust letting you and brother stay with if everyone else moves to Arizona? Are there college implications if you move before your senior year? Talk with your school counselor and see what academic concerns they might foresee.

If you are unable to come to a working solution, ask to speak with a family counselor or your pastor. Maybe an outside person can help your family to come up with something that will work. There are no guarantees your dad will budge, but perhaps hearing from other adults will help him see your viewpoint and why you and your brother feel as passionately as you do.

Moving your senior year would without doubt cause hurdles. Having only one year to readjust and connect with everyone could make the process difficult. Transitions cause stress and forcing you and your brother to move could have negative effects on your family dynamics, not to mention anger at your father. Hopefully by using either a family counselor, school counselor or church pastor, your dad can see the value in letting you and your brother stay and finish out.

Getting to share your final year of high school and graduate with your friends would be a priceless gift your parents can give you and a sacrifice for them that you should show appreciation for if they allow it.