Dealing w/ Unwanted Relocation

As a military member, moving while the kids were young was not uncommon. However, the most difficult of those moves occurred when my oldest was a teenager. The inclusion of our daughters in the discussion about moving when my oldest was going into high school was different than before. When the girls were in elementary school they had no input into when or where, and though they had friends in school and sports, they were younger and the departure seemed more tolerable. Granted the acceptability level is my interpretation, so my barometer of difficulty is obviously biased. Setting my biasness aside, the move when my oldest was going into high school was a true family event. The reassignment location was pretty well set, so most of the conversation was determining when. Given the opportunity to influence when I would move, I decided to bring in my daughters for the first time to collectively discuss our options. Every one stated their views, concerns and preferences. Impressively, my oldest offered to stay another year in northern Virginia and spend only 3 years at a new high school (to increase the potential for her sister to get 4 years at one high school). This is what we ultimately did, and though they were involved in the decision, once we were about to move the transition became more difficult, and didn't get easier once we did. School friends, neighborhood friends, soccer and gymnastics friends/teammates, coaches - the breath and depth of these relationships created reluctance and second guessing. Further, the success each of them had in their respective sport, academically and socially generated more interest in staying, even after family consensus to move. But I was committed, and the orders from the Army were in the works. So I needed the girls, and my wife, to change their energy from staying to moving. Eventually, we all got on the same sheet and though emotional, we all moved to Virginia Beach and re-established ourselves a few hundred miles south. One thing we did was empower my oldest in selecting her new high school to help her buy into the relocation. My wife and I shaped it so it worked out for everyone, as she eventually chose the school we preferred. The process of her deciding what mattered and weighing the pros and cons allowed us to instill confidence for future decisions too. Another aspect of the move was that each of my girls had worked hard to be "at the top" and knew that the move would force them to "start over." This seemed daunting, particularly for my oldest. To offset her concern/frustration, I explained how much control she actually did have. That her new beginning started in Virginia Beach, and she had to own it. I told her not to blame me for displacing her and not to act like all she achieved before the move was wasted. I challenged her to replicate the success she achieved in northern Virginia, and that the most respected attribute of military children is their ability to relocate and excel because of their experience and resilience. And this is how those characteristics are acquired. It was one of the most important talks I had with her. I needed her mindset to be right, and to her credit, she owned the responsibility and similarly excelled in Virginia Beach. For all of us, including my wife, this was an emotional move, but my daughters showed great maturity throughout.

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