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I was recently offered a job in another city on the other side of the country. I was attracted to it because it represents a new adventure for the family and my wife is excited by the prospect. Additionally, my current company is in some financial trouble and is currently in negotiations to be acquired by another company, so the future of my position here is a bit uncertain right now.

My son, however, is not happy about the idea of moving. Normally I'd say that kids can always make new friends, but my son has always had a hard time making new friends. He has one relationship in particular that I'd hesitate to take from him. Not only are they close, but he's a good influence on him and we're good friends with the family too.

Realistically speaking, the job itself is not much of an advancement career-wise. The pay is only marginally better and the responsibilities are largely the same. The excitement is mostly because we've lived in this area for 20 years and a change of scenery would be exciting and new. I can honestly say that I wouldn't be so interested in this new position if it were local.

So my question is, how much weight should I give to my son's objections? I'm not normally one to let a 12 year-old decide what's best for the family, but this would represent a huge change for him right at a time in his life where big changes are scary and confusing.

Everyone in our families and most of our frieds say we should go for it. Is my concern for how my son feels about it overblown?

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    Personally, I wouldn't move in the situation you describe. But I don't know your family and I don't think this question is answerable with anything other than personal opinions. – Pascal Jun 26 '17 at 7:26
  • What's the exact distance between the two places? (as in: How many visits per year would be realistic?) In the age of the internet, it has become much easier to stay in contact over long distances, but they might still want to see each other in person from time to time. – Annatar Jun 26 '17 at 9:19
  • have you considered that your current location/your son's current school may be a factor in your son's inability to create new relationships? moving to a new place might be an opportunity for him to improve that skill. – I wrestled a bear once. Jun 26 '17 at 14:10
  • @Annatar; The move would be 3,000+ miles away - literally the opposite side of the continent. We have no other family in the area, so it's unlikely we'd ever return unless we decide to rent our house rather than selling it (somethng my wife and I have discussed). – Wes Sayeed Jun 26 '17 at 18:31
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Your son has valid concerns, and as a somewhat introverted son that had 2 divorced parents that moved more than 20 times combined, which forced me to go to several different schools in the process... it wasn't fun. I had one friend from 4th grade that was with me through it all and I didn't really make any good friends for the rest of my school years. I was lucky enough to live in the same region as him.

That being said, you have valid concerns too. The risk of losing your job, the boredom. There could be some stressful times coming up if you stay, so this can't be ignored.

I suggest asking your son more about his concerns and worries. And when he's done, talk about your concerns and your worries as well. Using a negotiation approach can help both of you be more satisfied with the outcome.

Some concerns you can bring up:

  • I might not have a job soon, and this can put a lot of financial stress on our family

  • if I lose my job, we might have to downsize and move.

  • I am bored and there seems to be not much to do here

  • I am unsure if I will be able to get another job if I get let go, but I have some experience and the market might not be too bad.

Some concerns your son might bring up:

  • I have my good friend here and I might not see him again

  • I'm not the best at making friends and I'm going to have a tough time. It's going to be a tough transition

Additional topics that you can consider talking about with your son:

  • Does your son like someone? It can be a concern for him and it may be best to remind him that a 12 year old isn't able to get married and even high school relationships typically don't go that far.

  • Are you bored because you and your son are distant? Can you fill the gap with some mutual activities like playing some ball, martial arts classes, videogames, projects, etc? Maybe including his friend and their family occasionally. I see phones secluding people every day.

  • Has your son been to a new school or been in a situation where he might make new friends? It's possible that he might meet some people he enjoys.

  • kids are growing and learning and not necessarily confident or skilled with changing environments. A stable environment might be a lot less stressful for him. Stress can cause all kinds of issues.

Try to make this a win-win outcome
In my experience, having the rare negotiation with my parents like this was great except for the fact that in the end they used their authority to make the decision if they didn't get what they wanted. I learned they probably had already made up their mind and had a faux negotiation with me. I was resentful after that. Try to keep it equal and use your negotiation skills to tell the truth about your situation, and give your son plenty of room to give his. Maybe include things he didn't think about. Giving him say in the decision process will, I think, bring you guys closer.

  • No fatalism! ;-) +1 – Pascal Jun 26 '17 at 21:23
  • Where?! Lol Do an edit if you want – Craig Jun 26 '17 at 21:35
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    No, that wasn't an order but a statement! I meant there was none! :-) – Pascal Jun 26 '17 at 22:20
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You had me worried when you wrote, "Normally I'd say that kids can always make new friends," so I was relieved you continued with "but my son has always had a hard time making new friends." Respect this, it is a big deal.

Then you go on explaining that your main motivation seem to be a desire for a change of scenery. So ... how big a change? Would it be sufficient to move to a new house, possibly in another part of the same city/town/area, such that your son can maintain his social circle (however narrow it might be)?

What else is going on, locally, in your lives, how would a move affect the social goings-on of the family as a whole? Are other relatives nearby or far away either location?

I've been "the son" in this situation, and I'll tell you it was a hard point for my family (but then we'd moved a fair number of times already and enough was enough). My father tried to "bribe" me (with a game console), and I must say not only did it not work, I was hurt.

I completely understand that you shouldn't "let a 12 year-old decide what's best for the family", but you should take the well-being of every individual of the family into account. As a small counterpoint to David Boshton's answer, I would say that the early teens is also a very good time to develop depression (esp. if one is sensitive or introverted and being taken out of one's comfort zone).

What I'm trying to say is, if I were you I'd start looking for another house, but stay in the general area until you have sufficient reason to move further.

  • Yeah depression is definitely possible. I got that for a couple years around 14 years old after a big move. – Craig Jun 26 '17 at 18:16
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I would say 12 is a great age to move. It's a decent enough time to build friendships before the major decisions he has to make.

However, it's going to be hard. And children don't understand necessarily the future benefit of current decisions.

The other thing you need to factor in is that if you are happier and more content, you will be a better, more relaxed parent. So there are benefits that way. These are family decisions. Ultimately it's also a great thing to take a child through a move (provided it's not every year!) because they get to learn that it's ok to move and they will be safe on the other side of it because he's around his parents who can give him the support he needs to go through it.

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