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It's Time to Go

Living in a globalized world entails greater geographical mobility. Moving to another country for a certain period of time has become increasingly common. In my case, I've had the opportunity to live in 9 different countries over the past 20 years. In July, I'm preparing for my tenth move, this time to Thailand, and I'm already immersed in the farewell process. When facing this new change, I'm once again applying the advice I've often given to families with children in similar situations. In this article, I'll share the main ideas to consider when moving to another country and saying goodbye to our home.

First and foremost, just as we do whenever we tackle any challenging topic with our children, we must promote open and clear communication from the outset. It's important to avoid beating around the bush and communicate the decision to change countries as soon as possible, along with the reasons behind it. On the other hand, it's essential to validate your children's feelings and acknowledge that it's completely normal to experience sadness when moving to another country and leaving behind their home, friends, and routine. Encourage them to express their emotions without fear of feeling bad or disappointing you for not showing strength. This process can be likened to grief, and all these emotions are completely natural and to be expected. Allowing them to share their feelings will help them process the change and adapt more healthily to the new environment.

One key to overcoming any challenging situation is the sense of control. Helping your children feel that they have some degree of control over their lives, even amidst such a big change as moving to another country, is essential for their well-being. Involving them in decision-making related to the move will give them a sense of agency and participation. Allowing them to choose which toys, books, and other items to take with them, how to decorate their future room, and other aspects of their daily routine can make a big difference. In this regard, it's important to remind them that, regardless of where they go, there are things that will remain stable and unchanged. This will help reduce stress and uncertainty. Assure them that they will be able to continue celebrating their traditions and enjoying activities they used to do with the family, as well as cultivating their interests and hobbies.

To maintain a positive attitude towards the country change, it's crucial for children to see us as models of resilience and optimism. This doesn't mean feigning constant happiness or denying difficulties, but rather acknowledging challenges while highlighting the opportunities and exciting experiences that await us in the new destination. A useful practice may be to share images and videos of the place they're moving to and start planning activities they can enjoy there. This will help them visualize the new experiences awaiting them and feel excited about the adventures to come. Also, remember to openly discuss any concerns or fears they may have and provide emotional support throughout the transition process.

Regarding farewell rituals, these can be a powerful tool to help children process their emotions and accept the change. Some examples may include creating a photo album or journal with memories of the place they're leaving, organizing a farewell party with friends and family, writing letters to people they'll miss, or leaving a meaningful object at the place they're leaving.

Finally, we shouldn't hesitate to seek professional help if necessary. If you notice that your children are having difficulties at school or in their daily routine, and you see that they're experiencing deeper emotional problems, consider seeking the support of a mental health expert. It's especially useful to find someone specialized in migration grief, as they can provide the appropriate support to help them process their emotions and adapt healthily to the new situation.

While moving to another country can be a challenging experience, it also represents a unique opportunity for personal growth, learning, and strengthening emotional bonds. Change is a natural part of our lives, and with love, patience, and a positive attitude, we can overcome it and turn it into an enriching experience.

For families embarking on this journey next school year, I wish you a smooth transition process filled with new and positive experiences. May the adventure of discovering a new home and culture be a path of learning and growth for all.

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