This is the topic that parents worry about the most when planning to emigrate. How you handle it as a parent makes the difference between starting world war three in your household or bringing your family together. Here’s my story:
We had visited Canada two or three times before we began our visa application and each time we were all grumpiest people on the airplane on the return journey because none of us wanted to leave. We were lucky that our sons loved it as much as we did.
Our Eldest had started secondary school when we first submitted our application and with a 3 ½ – 4 year wait for a Permanent Residency Visa we knew he would be able to finish school before we left. I suppose the long wait was a bonus for us because we had such a long time to prepare ourselves. We visited Canada on a regular basis while we waited for our application and made the effort to visit places we were interested in making home and to just have the most fun we could squeeze into a couple of weeks, I mean who wouldn’t want it live in a place where you can do all this:
It was 3 years before a letter came in the mail asking us to start preparing our paperwork, take our medicals etc. The boys were part of every decision and every time we had a letter from immigration they knew about it, I think this was what made it easier for them, there were never any surprises. By this time they were 16 and 9, like all kids at that age their friends meant the world to them, every now and again the nerves would come up and they would get upset and worry about leaving their friends and family so I told them the truth, I would miss our family and friends too but that would be the only draw back of our new life. We set up facebook and skype accounts exchanged emails so they had every communication method available.
As the time to leave got closer we made another visit to Canada where we finalized the area we wanted to live in, we visited the local schools and viewed houses for sale but always asking them their opinion. Reality started to make us all a bit panicky at this stage so we made a deal that we would give it our all our best shot, no less than 100% for at least two years and then we would sit down together and discuss the future. We shared everything with them, they saw me sobbing after saying good bye to our loved ones, celebrate after selling the house and booking the flights it was an emotional rollercoaster but we went through it all together I don’t think hiding emotions and pretending it was easy would have been beneficial to them, being boys who tend to be more reserved with their feelings I think the best way to let them know it’s OK to feel how they do is not to hide how I’m feeling.
I recently read an enquiry on an expats forum where a mum was asking advice on how to tell her teenage children that they were emigrating. Tell??? Really??? I don’t believe I was ever a rebellious teen and I’m sure my parents would agree, but I can imagine the hissy fit I would have thrown if I’d been told that my life was going to change completely whether I liked it or not and I had no control over it. In my opinion the easiest way to spark a rebellion from a teenager is by telling them they have to do something regardless of how they feel about it. Don’t get me wrong I am still the parent and I am in control but kids need to know their opinion counts and that we as adults listen to their thoughts. Discussing why you want to emigrate, where you want to go, how things will change is vital to a smooth transition from your old life into a new one. Let them be part of the decision don’t tell them what you have decided after the fact.
So we will sit down next July and have our two year meeting and discuss the future but I’m pretty sure I know how it will go, the boys love there new life here, they both enjoy school have a great circle of friends and are excited about their future. Of course they still miss our family and friends but they look forward to the time when they can visit and they’ll get to spend quality time with them.