How Do I Help a Child Whose Single Parent Moves a Lot?
Linda Ranson Jacobs
Linda Ranson Jacobs is a speaker and child care expert, who works with single parents, children, and teenagers. She has been both divorced and widowed. Linda is the creator and developer of DivorceCare for Kids, a weekly program helping children whose parents are separated or divorced. Websites: https://blog.dc4k.org, https://www.dc4k.org, https://www.GriefShare.org, https://www.DivorceCare.org, https://www.Singleandparenting.org
Moving is hard any way you label it. Recently, we moved into a new home. Now I’m an adult and I understand in my mind the logistics of moving.
I know things must be packed up and carted to the other home
I understand things will be different at the new house
1. Toothbrushes and hairbrushes will be in a different place in the bathroom
2. The new bedroom is going to feel different and the light switches will be in a different place
You get the picture - things are going to be different. No matter how much I envision everything in my mind things are just going to be different.
From the eyes of a child
I have worked with and ministered to many little kids who simply didn’t know what was happening.
“What? We’re moving this weekend? Nobody told me anything” to which a single divorcing parent might laugh nervously and say, “I guess I just forgot to tell you. It will be okay. You’ll see. We’ll have fun.”
Or this scenario, “Yes, while you are at your mom’s place this weekend I’m going to be moving to a new place. Don’t worry ‘cause my girlfriend and I will get the room you are going to share with her son all set up.”
I’ve seen the look of confusion; of sadness, and even of anger as reality sets in that the child is going to have to move yet again.
How do you help the single parent help the child?
Set up a time to meet with the single parent. Even a phone call will help
Explain how important it is for him/her to talk about the up and coming move
If the move is not immediate, encourage the single parent to take the child to the new neighborhood and home to look around. Check out the school. Ask the child where to place things like the cereal bowls in the kitchen (Cereal bowls are very important to a kid!)
Show the child where their room will be
Encourage the parent to have the child pack up their own room and their own toys
Even encourage the parent on moving day or the day before to allow the child to take their things to the new house and place them in their new room
Explain that surprises– such as the addition of a boyfriend or girlfriend into the new home is unwise and will likely be very disruptive to the child
In other words, encourage the single parent to make the child part of the process. You might give the child scriptures or stories about people in the Bible who had to move. Some of these little kids feel like nomads wandering around or like the children of Israel having to wander the desert.
In my DC4K group, I was explaining the story of Moses and how the children of Israel wandered around the desert not knowing where they might sleep that night. One little boy said,
Hey that’s kind of like me. We move so much I never know how long we are going to live there.
I feel like those kids in the Moses story.
How can you make life a wee bit easier for some children in your program when they have to move?