Expatriation with family: the child is often at the heart of the decisions

Whether you change neighbourhoods, move to the other side of the country or to the other side of the world, the child is always confronted with new benchmarks, an upheaval of his circle of friends, school, activities, even culture or language. A move to a new location is, for young and old alike, a change to be addressed with serenity.

Children are like sponges, they say. They absorb and feel the unspoken, connect with our emotions, our fears and our hopes. It is therefore of vast importance to be attentive to their needs and desires, thereby ensuring that the transition is as smooth as possible given the circumstances.

You may have read in a previous article on our blog about the positive aspects of a look-and-see-trip.

If such an opportunity is not part of the relocation package offered by your employer, we advise you to take the initiative to come with your family beforehand in order to visit the surroundings of your future place of residence. Finding a place to live is only one element to consider: school options, the atmosphere in the host country, the welcome that you receive, all these aspects form an integral part of your decision-making process. Trust your impressions and your intuitions. It is important to feel confident about being able to build a happy life in the new country.

As soon as the opportunity for a move looms, talk about it openly with your children. If they have any questions relating to your expatriation, try to answer them in a comprehensive way. It will help your children to feel more included and less helpless, having to face an arbitrary decision made by the parents. Let them express their doubts and fears. Highlight the positive sides and get them involved in organizing, packing boxes or decorating their new rooms according to their ages. Facilitate the contact with their old friends: set up skype and continue to visit each other during the school holidays – this will help your children not to over-idealize the past and to gradually soothe the loss of daily contact with their old friends. This progressive “mourning” will allow them to settle and integrate more easily into their new environment.

Once you have started your new life in you new location, be aware of the emotional phases your children will be going through. Probably a bit confused or lost at first, you are their anchor point # 1. It is important to keep certain rituals in order to reassure them. Certain fears or anxieties (fear of the dark or thieves) or regressive behaviour (bed wetting, need a blanket, not sleeping alone …) can occur – this may indicate that the child needs to feel safe and reassured. He or she can also react with an aggressiveness not previously displayed, be sad or nostalgic. Stay positive to restore confidence in the future without being in denial or ignoring that the current situation may be difficult for him or her. Continue to help her him adapt without cutting her from her old life. Eventually, after a few weeks or months, she will be caught up in a new routine and focus her his energy on her adaptation.

The expression that we hear more and more in recent years is the word “resilience”. Whether we are 6, 15 or 40 years old, we all need time to point our inner compass needle back to north and recreate our own nest: in short, to “feel at home”. The term “resilience” in psychology defines our ability to overcome traumatic shocks, to absorb the vagaries of life, to reorganize, and especially to continue to function in the same way as before the disruption.

  • Always keep your child’s well-being in mind. Despite recent changes, think every day about how your child lives this adventure.
  • Have positive expectations. Do not put the bar too high and give it time. Always appreciate their efforts.
  • Get him actively involved in the development of his new daily routine and make joint decisions.
  • Listen to him and communicate! Make time together. We exchange more openly and personally during a short walk. It frees the mind and we have time to go deeper on some personal topics (personally, my best conversations with my children is during a hiking trip together!).

Thus supported and surrounded by his parents, the child will rebound in the face of the new situation and draw on its resources to adapt. Once his new balance is found, he will see his expatriation as an enrichment and a force that will come to strengthen his personality.

Often having only a few days to find a new apartment, house or school etc. upon your arrival at your new location, enjoy the services and experience of a relocation agency to make a good start. Indeed, as the search criteria will have previously been communicated to them, the terrain has already been prepared efficiently: appointments are made and a constructive programme put in place. Thus, viewings will be done in a defined area giving you a precise idea of what your new life will look like.

Your Relocator will help you chose the right path and to level any potential bumps on the way.

At your story in paris, we have all moved with our family from one country to another. Feel free to take advantage of our advice based on our personal experience.




About Béa Martin-Gehrig