Moving to Spain with Teenagers
What do I know about moving to Spain, with teenagers?
Answer, absolutely nothing! I came to Spain from the UK with two very young children.
So, as with everything else on this blog, these are my own personal opinions. I would love for you to comment, below and tell me I am wrong or even if you agree with me. Especially, if you have moved here with teenagers, let me know your experiences. Thanks 🙂
Moving to Spain or anywhere abroad with teenagers must be a daunting task for most parents. What do teenagers fear most about the BIG move? Apart from not wanting to actually go, of course! Well, the fear of losing Friends & Family. Throw leaving behind a Boyfriend or Girlfriend into the mix and you are going to be hated for a long while. Apart from that, their studies and having to learn a new language and make new friends, is somewhat of an unwanted challenge.
I would advise you to wait but hey, who am I to stand in front of your dreams. Let’s consider your teenager and his or her concerns.
Remember being a teenager? You know, how you dealt with peer pressure, adolescence, puberty, acne, fashion, music, weight problems, relationships etc, etc.
It wasn’t easy was it? Nothing’s changed, it’s still not. Being a teenager in familiar confines is not easy but now they have got to deal with moving to a foreign country! So, if your teenager is far from enthusiastic about moving abroad, don’t be surprised. They are at an age when they will need to rebel and assert their views more aggressively. You will need to listen to them, expressing their dissent, and you as a parent must be empathetic. You will need to reassure them that this move will be GREAT, for the whole family. Even though, I am sure you will have anxiety and doubts, listen to their protests and try to put their fears to rest.
You will need all the help you can get, so if other trusted family members or friends can help you out, please ask them.
Get the timing right and you may just make your life easier.
So when might be an appropriate time? If you have been planning this for a long time, make sure you drop hints, every now and again. May be leave magazines about Spain or property abroad, lying around for them to see.
It is important that you introduce the topic of moving to Spain at an appropriate time. The end of the academic year is a good idea, all depending on how long it is before the actual move. This may make it seem a bit more like the beginning of a new chapter in your children’s life. It may also enable them to look at the move as beginning afresh in a new school with new friends and so on. I know I am looking on the bright side, but hey I am an optimist 🙂
Make sure you have done your homework, you need to convey a 100% conviction about the move, as well as having studied every detail of the new place you will call home. They will soon sense any doubts or flaws in your plans. If you can give your teen a preview of the new place he or she will soon call home, that will make a difference. Show them, how beautiful it is, relate to all the things they like doing and show them how much better they will be able do them in Spain. Films, books or documentaries will be a good introduction for them. You might, encourage your child to find out something on their own, by searching on the internet. If there is an expat community in the area, tell them about it. The existence of an expatriate community will reassure them that they will make new friends and have lots of fun things to do.
Remember to involve them in the whole moving process.
You must make your child feel involved in the transition of moving to Spain. Ask them to go with you on house hunting trips so they can get a feel for the place themselves. I’m not normally one for bribes but if there is something your teenager really wants, then why not let them know they can have it, when you have moved to Spain! This may just help break the ice a little and make your experience a little less painless. Once you have a new home and you can decorate, let them decorate their own room. May be, you might want to oversee it though;)
You may need to be a safety net.
What do I mean by that? Well, ensure your child / children know they can always rely on you for support. You need to make them feel, they can rely on you, as a parent for anything. They may lose their friends but assure them, they have the support of his extended family and their parents for anything. Your job is to let them know, that no matter how embarrassing an issue, you will at least hear them out first. You also need to let them keep in contact with friends and family back home, via Skype, telephone, e-mail and may be at least an annual visit to your home country.
If possible, depending on the term and time of year, a visit to the new school together with your child would be a good idea. It will help you all, to take a tour of the new school, meet the teachers and the head of the institution so that things won’t seem so new and overwhelming when they start or the academic year begins. If you put your teenagers in an International school it will be a lot easier to be able to talk to the teachers and explain your child’s predicaments if any. This might not be so easy if they are going into a state Spanish school, but this is not a good idea. Your child’s education isn’t something you can play with at this stage of their lives. The studies will be difficult enough, without having to try and understand everything in a new language! They will be completely lost, absolutely everything will be diffrent and alien to them.
Now Family Time becomes Nº. 1
You should now be able to have some special family time when you and your children can bond. Your new surroundings should give you plenty of excuses to get out and explore. Visit all the local places of interest. If your kids love sport get them to join clubs, in the sports they are interested in. Go out to the local restaurants and have fun choosing the menu. However simple, you should all get together and talk about what is happening with you at work and in school. It could also be a short weekend getaway, bowling, skating or hire out a movie for you all to watch together, just something you all enjoy doing.
Whatever family rituals or practices your family has, keep them up and let your children remain in touch with yours and their traditions and values, even though they now live in Spain
A patient and empathetic approach with the element of fun thrown in is all you need to make a smooth transition abroad with your teenager. This might be easier said than done if you live in a non touristy part of Spain, but if you need to and things seem tough don’t hesitate, to try and to seek professional help.