Moving with Teens
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Moving with Teens
I have a 13 yr old son and am thinking about moving from the south
bay to berkeley to live in my new husband's home. I'm waiting until
my son completes middle school. I have heard that a move to a
different town to live with a stepfather may breed resentment in my
son. While he and my husband like each other as an uncle type
relationship my son is understandably unhappy with the idea of
leaving friends. I'm concerned that my son will blame me and my
husband for making this move and be miserable to live with
throughout high school. I do have a choice to stay in the south bay
but would prefer to combine households which would give me more time
to parent without the distraction of work and work-related travel.
I know each circumstance is unique but does anyone have a sense of
how well or poorly a teenage boy will adapt to living in a
stepfathers home? Ps. No other kids are involved. Thanks for any
My recommendation is that if you really do have a choice here, don't
move and make your son relocate his life for high school. Hang in
there a few more years and do it once he is grown and off to college
or capable of living on his own if he wants. My ex and his wife did
that and I am convinced that it really was best for our children.
Especially our son who was the only child at home as his sister had
gone off to college already. Or why can't your husband move to be
with you and your son? High school years can be difficult enough for
moms and sons without a kid having to start a new life...my $.02
grateful to my ex and his wife
We are thinking of moving our family of 4 to Spain for a year abroad.
Both my husband and I have jobs with enough flexibility that we could
make it work. We'll have a 10th grader, and a 4th grader. The 10th
grader is currently a freshman in the IB program at Berkeley High. Does
anyone have any experience with or insight into this kind of move, from
what kind of school to enroll the kids in, to what Spanish city to live
in, to tips about renting out the Berkeley house for a year. We're
interested in Barcelona most of all, but we're still researching. Our
kids don't speak Spanish well enough (at this moment) to go to Spanish
schools, but if there were some recommended institutions we could start
them in intensive language lessons now.
Thanks for any and all advice.
We spent an academic year in Kenya when our kids were 9
and 13. It was hard on the 13 yr old, but I am still
really glad we did it.
I wanted to be sure they kept up with their math, so I
found out what textbooks they would be using and bought
those to bring along.
One small suggestion is think ahead about all the holidays
you will miss and bring along a little something to help
you celebrate in an American way (a box of birthday
candles, a pack of Easter egg dye if you celebrate Easter,
etc)--keep these items as a surprise.
We rented out our house and it went very well. It was
stressful because it wasn't lined up until just before our
departure, and I started finding all kinds of paid
services to list it, but in the end it was craigslist that
have a great time!
We took our high schooler to Italy during Sophomore year. Worth it
but socially it was really difficult as their students' grasp of
English was poor. Also the teaching methods very different, lots
of rote learning; student had to memorize physics lessons by heart
in Italian,etc (on the plus side English was a breeze). Also not
much break in the grading; and one of the teachers had some
problem with student and didn't believe in grading easier.
The big impact was in the grading. They, as in other European
countries, used a 1-10 system, where a 10 is a kind of Super-A, of
which very few, or none, are given out in the school year. Our
student received eights and sevens, similar to A and B grades, but
her Bay Area High School interpreted them as mostly Cs because
they insisted 10 was an A, 9 was a B and 8 was a C, and it lowered
a straight A average in High School and then grade point average
for college admissions. (Someone had mentioned this before we went
abroad but I didn't pay much attention to it, thinking we could
contest the grades, and we tried but...) There were private
English-speaking schools we could have tried, but they were
expensive. I think she would have actually made good friends there
and gotten better grades. The advantage of sending her to the
local schools was that she learned to speak the language and it
was affordable. I still think going abroad was worth it, but had I
really realized the social and college consequences of attending a
local school, I would have done things differently.
We are from Japan and we have a 14-y.o. boy. There is a situation
where both of us, need to move to Japan.
But we aren't confident that our son can be adjusted to the new
school environment in his new country. The high school here is
already a challenge to him and he is behind in classes. While he
speaks Japanese, he would have to learn new classroom vocabulary ,
new style of teaching, literature and history of Japan, etc. We
thought about enrolling him into an American school, but they seem
to have a high academic standard and they may not let him in. The
extremely high tuition is another problem.
There are host families for foreign exchange students. We are
wondering if a similar arrangement can be made for kids like him
who want to finish high school while the parents need to move to
I wouldn't leave my child behind with anyone. Leaving him behind
isn't going to help him get caught up with school.
Can you get the home school curriculum from your local american
school district and tutor him while you are in Japan? If not, maybe
you can get a tutor in Japan to tutor him with the local lessons?
My advice, take him with you and let him do the best that he can.
Twenty years ago our friends faced moving their children from
the US to Japan. They had been living and working in the US, and
both children were born in the US and had begun schooling there.
Their children were much younger, but were already culturally
not able to fit into the Japanese schools that they would have
preferred. Instead, their daughter ended up graduating from an
American high school in Japan, and the son from St. Mary's
International School (I just came across his graduation
announcement). Both graduated from US colleges, and are now
cosmopolitan young adults, comfortable living in both the US and
Japan, as well as other countries for shorter stays.
Lots of value from transnational education
There are fabulous boarding schools all over the US.
Check this option.
I lived in Tokyo for 11 years so I understand what you are going
through. You don't say if you are returning to Tokyo or another
area of Japan. A couple possibilities to consider:
1. Have your student stay in the US at a boarding school. This
option may be expensive.
2. There are many international schools in Japan beyond the
American School in Japan and they all don't have academic
requirements as high as the American School. Some have large
numbers of returned students such as your son. Some offer
financial aid. This website lists many schools
Check out www.kaischool.com. If that doesn't work for you
because of geography, contact them for advice.
3. Some areas such as Nagoya have special programs for returned
Understand what you are going through
Have you considered a US boarding school? The idea of leaving a
high schooler on his own (or with a family you don't really know
well) who is already struggling just sounds like disaster
waiting to happen. Many boarding schools have international
students and are used to that extra layer of support and
oversight. One to consider that would be closer to Japan is
Hawaii Preparatory Academy (HPA) on the Big Island of Hawaii
that has day and boarding students. It has great academics.
For many years my husband and I have discussed moving back to the East
Coast to live closer to family. It has taken a while to work it out so
that he can remain with his company. We finally have that piece worked out,
but the problem is we have 2 teenage sons. Our oldest will be in 10th grade in
the fall and the youngest an 8th grader. California is the only home they
have ever had, but they do love hanging out with their cousins and
grandparents on the East Coast. While I have always wanted this move, I am suddenly
very apprehensive, especially for my older boy. Can anyone shed who has either
experienced this themselves as a teen or who has moved teens far away
shed some light on their experience? I would greatly appreciated any words
of wisdom. Thanks.
My family moved me from California to the Suburbs of New
York when I was 13. It was very traumatic. It might be
easier for boys and yours are a little older so it might be
fine but it was very difficult for me. The East Coast is
VERY different than the West Coast and making new friends
in High School when cliques are already formed can be
tricky. It was freeing in some ways because I could
reinvent myself but I also lost the grounding history I had
and had to quickly learn to navigate a whole new culture
and social structure at a time when I was still learning
who I was. I also did not want to move and hated the
freezing winters so if your boys are on board it might go
more smoothly. I definately blamed my parents for several
Wouldn't move my teens
Many centuries ago (1968, to be precise), my parents moved
from the Bay Area to a town that shall remain nameless
(okay, it was Winnetka, Illinois) in the summer before I
started my junior year in high school. It was probably the
worst year in my life, even though (we had been a military
family until 1964) I had been used to frequent moves/new
schools/etc. During that year, I would have given ANYTHING
not to have moved. In retrospect, it probably made me
stronger (although also, some might say, emotionally
distant) but ... IMHO, what you should look at is how
similar or different the area you would be moving to is
compared to where you are now. In 1968, suburban Chicago
and the Bay Area were different worlds. Here, we had Mario
Savio and the Free Speech movement at UC; there, I was
ostracized on day one for the horrible faux pax of wearing
white cotton socks. Really! As you can probably tell, it
still rankles. Maybe nowadays the differences aren't as
great, but if you're blue state folks moving red state, it
could still be challenging. Of course, if you're talking
about moving to Boston or Providence or something like
that, it might be no problem -- and, if you're moving to
the same town as the cousins you mention, it would
certainly help to have built-in connections rather than
being a complete stranger. I guess one other thing I would
mention is the difficulty a young man can have getting to
know girls in a new town. That, I expect, has not changed
over the years. I would ask your older boy (and the
younger one too) exactly how they feel about the move. Not
to say they should have a veto power, but they should be
willing participants and not conscripts.
In response to the mother who was considering the effect
that moving her teens across the US to the East Coast, I
would have written earlier, but we have so much to do out
here in the East that I have been very busy. We moved
almost 2 years ago from Berkeley to Frederick, Md ( 45
minutes Northwest of Washington DC ) because Bechtel
Corporation moved their last remaining divisions out of San
Francisco to join other previously displaced divisions.
Having never considered leaving my family in California or
wanting to relocate to the East Coast, the move was a
difficult choice. Our two oldest children are in college
and working, so didn't even consider leaving California.
BUT--- the people are friendly here, with a good mix of
liberal and conservative, rural and urban, churched and non
churched. The country side is breathtaking, and spring and
fall have new meanings here. We did however have to make a
few modifications in our lifestyle to feel comfortable
here. We bought a house in the country surrounded by farms
which gives us a 10 minute commute to work. My son goes to
a great public high school. We joined a church in
Washington DC that was recommended by our Berkeley friends,
and that means that each week in DC after church we can
choose a gallery in a Smithsonian Museum or one monument to
vist at a leisurely pace. We can drop into the National Zoo
or walk the National Mall. One Sunday we decided at the
last minute to go pay tribute to Gerald Ford as he lay in
state at the Capitol Building, and protest marches are
every other week.
To keep our son busy we also joined
Scouts, and found him a good music teacher at the local
community college. He has been in the marching band -
which is so not Berkeley High, but does get to be in the
Jazz Band spring semester. He does miss his friends, but we
flew him back to visit with them, and he does IM and phone
talks. He felt that going from having 2 siblings to none
was a little on the oppressive parent side, as in too much
parental attention, so we hosted a student from Costa Rica
for year through AFS. That gave our son the chance to
share some of the wonders here on the East Coast and evened
out the adult/teen ratio. Public transportation is horrible
outside of DC and the roads are not well suited for biking
or walking, so we do drive much more than we did in
After two years of being an East Coast transplant
my son has a job at the local pizza place, is doing great
in school, volunteers at the local baseball stadium, plays
basketball with the neighbors, has made many friends around
the county and in Virginia and in the District. We've had
lots of new opportunities here, but still feel that
California is our other home. I recommend moving with your
eyes wide open. I decided that I was going to like my new
home and put in the energy to find new delights. Best
wishes and come visit!
i am interested in hearing from parents who have had to deal
with unexpected moves to another state (one side of the country
to the other). specifically, ideas on how to approach a 13 year
old girl who is very happily settled with her current life and
we moved here from Michigan when our daughter was a Junior
and we did hear many times, then, that we were going to
totally ruin her life.... and i must say that it was really
hard, she had an awful time adjusting to Berkeley High but
there was no option for us.... except the one of a friend
offering to keep her there through the end of high school
which i did not want because i felt that i would lose her
right then.... instead of when she went to college.
looking at the whole experience 4 years later.... it was a
hard moment but absolutely worth it. yes, you'll have a
hard time seeing her miserable for a while but life goes
on.... we did give her unlimited phone calls and plane
tickets to go back to visit & it made her feel a lot better
and in the long run did not cost us too much! good luck!
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