When to tell dc we are moving abroad?

(102 Posts)
pickupstix Thu 14-Oct-21 11:56:29

Long story short we recently finally got visas for a move that has been in the pipeline with dh job for a while, to the US (New York). This will most likely happen in early feb next year. Dd is 7 in a couple of months, very settled at school where she has been since attending toddler groups, she has a couple of good friends and does some extra curricular activities she likes, basically I think the move will be a tough thing for her to get her head round, but for various reasons it is definitely the best move for our family right now and we are going. I’m currently of the view that I can hold off on telling dd this is happening for a bit longer, she’s quite sensitive and will dwell on it and get upset about leaving friends etc, so I want to limit the amount of time she has to do that before we go. But am I wrong? Would you tell her now? Never done this before so appreciate the help very much!

OP’s posts: |
JesusInTheCabbageVan Thu 14-Oct-21 11:59:30

Not been in this situation, but my gut instinct is that you have to tell her now. Not just to make sure she has enough time to process it and work through her feelings, but also because it would be so much worse if she found out accidentally (e.g overhearing a conversation).

lnsufficientFuns Thu 14-Oct-21 12:00:30


Popetthetreehugger Thu 14-Oct-21 12:00:31

I’d tell her before any one else can let the cat out of the bag , but big congratulations on this fantastic opportunity! Enjoy your adventure 😎🙌

Aroundtheworldin80moves Thu 14-Oct-21 12:02:21

After Christmas.
Weve moved a lot. The bigger the run up and fuss made, the more stress it caused them.

However you can lay ground work now, like researching similar activities abroad, watching TV/films set in American elementary schools, starting a memory book, getting her used to Internet video calls if you haven't already.

picklemewalnuts Thu 14-Oct-21 12:02:26

Talk about New York. It's an unknown place an unimaginable distance away at the moment. Give it context. Do video calls with people you know, so it's really mundane and every day. It probably already is, these days!

Talk about what an exciting place it is, and what things she'll love about it. Research where she can do her hobbies there, and what other opportunities she'd have which may not be available here. Help her look up photos, watch kids films set in America.

BestZebbie Thu 14-Oct-21 12:05:35

Now, before she starts making any plans in her head for next year.


gonnabeok Thu 14-Oct-21 12:05:38

I definitely wouldn't tell her until after christmas. Let her enjoy her christmas. If she is sensitive maybe put something together first that she can look at about where you are moving to. The exciting things she could see and do so she could excited about it. If you know your accomodation/where you will live maybe talk about planning her new bedroom and what it will look like.

If I was you, and I have a sensitive dd, I would introduce the idea slowly after christmas, maybe just mention you may be moving due to her dad's job first and talk about the area etc and then over a short period then tell her it is happening. If she has a best friend reassure her that she can write/facetime them and her family regularly.

That's what I would do, but you know your dd best.

Children are very resilient. I know the children who have moved from my dd's class - the teacher did some really nice last day things - like cakes and signing school tops, cards. Maybe have a word with her teacher so they can do something similar. Good luck with the move.

whatnumber Thu 14-Oct-21 12:05:42

In most cases I don't think people should keep things from kids.
She will pick up that something is happening and if you deny children the chance to confirm their gut instinct is correct then they will never trust it in the future.

InTropicalTrumpsLand Thu 14-Oct-21 12:09:31

If you don't want to tell her now (which would be my first option), could you prepare her for the fact you "might" move? Growing up DF had a job that meant he could be told at any moment to pack his bags and move a very long distance.

Every now and again, which I now realise is every time he applied for a promotion, my brother and I were sat down at the dining table and made aware of the possibility it could happen.

So when it did happen, though it came as a shock, we had been aware for a while that it was a very realistic chance.

My option two would be, then, imply the move now, keep bringing it up every now and again, and tell her after Christmas.

PinkWaferBiscuit Thu 14-Oct-21 12:11:24

I would tell her sooner rather than later. Presumably you'll be boxing up the contents of your house and shipping stuff across and not making plans for after Christmas whilst she is still making plans or thinking things will be happening like school trips, friends parties etc. She's going to start realising pretty quickly something is going on.

February isn't that far away and even telling her now only gives her a short amount of time to come to terms with what is a huge huge change in her world.

PlanDeRaccordement Thu 14-Oct-21 12:11:34

We moved internationally three times with DC of various ages.
I would not hold off any longer in telling her. She deserves the same time you have to acclimatise to the impending move. And yes, you can do things to get children excited about moving, but don’t create expectations that are impossible to meet because the let down once you moved will be a shock to their system. You need to allow space and time for them to be sad and say their goodbyes.

DPotter Thu 14-Oct-21 12:14:03

Imagine the confusion and heartache she'll feel if someone else asks her how she feels about moving to New York BEFORE you tell her.

Tell her sooner rather than later - ask someone will let it slip or she'll overhear conversations between you and DH

underneaththeash Thu 14-Oct-21 12:14:51

I definitely wouldn’t tell her yet. Wait til after Christmas especially if she worries. Six weeks to get used to something is a long time for a small

IsolaPribby Thu 14-Oct-21 12:17:04

You are obviously going to start preparing for the move soon, and it will be hard to keep that secret from her. Perhaps encourage her to put things she can take with her on her Christmas list. Is it a permanent move or are you planning to return at some point. Will she want to be aware so that she can spend special time with grandparents over Christmas?

GoodVibesHere Thu 14-Oct-21 12:18:50

You're getting mixed responses. Personally I think tell her now.

I wouldn't show her Anerican films in the way suggested upthread as they aren't reality.

No need to put pressure on her to enjoy looking forward to the move, but time for her to process it in her own mind.

pickupstix Thu 14-Oct-21 12:18:54

Seems like a bit of a split between after Xmas and now… I completely respect her right to have time to process, I just don’t know if three months will be a long time for everything to be tainted with sadness for her (god that sounds so dramatic!) We have a small rented flat so packing won’t be a military operation, we aren’t shipping furniture etc, but we will be shipping anything she wants to bring so I’ll definitely need a lead time to do that.

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pickupstix Thu 14-Oct-21 12:19:37

It will be 2-4 years in my mind, to return before secondary school. We will be able to come back to see family at least once a year.

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pickupstix Thu 14-Oct-21 12:20:07

Oh and she has been to NY on trips with us while dh was working before so it’s not totally unfamiliar iyswim. She does enjoy American tv etc.

OP’s posts: |
PinkWaferBiscuit Thu 14-Oct-21 12:21:17


I definitely wouldn’t tell her yet. Wait til after Christmas especially if she worries. Six weeks to get used to something is a long time for a small

For a toddler maybe but not for a 7 year old. It's no time at all for such a huge change. You wouldn't hold off telling her something else as life changing such as getting a new sibling either because big changes need time to sink in and for the child to have time to properly process them.

Farwest Thu 14-Oct-21 12:22:25

Now. Christmas is over 2 months away. You will need to make plans and will want to talk to others about your move, especially family. Someone may slip and let her know before you tell her yourself, which really would be awful.

FatBettyintheCoop Thu 14-Oct-21 12:23:21

Start talking about US and NY now in terms of geography and culture etc. Talk positively about children in other cultures and get her excited about the idea of living in other countries.

I wouldn't tell her about the actual move until after Christmas though and make sure no-one else does either.

Will there be grandparents getting upset about the move who might interfere?

I'm a big believer in the power of positivity and we moved abroad when DS was 5. We made it seem like a great adventure which it was for the first 6 months as we were essentially on a long holiday and house hunting. We've been here 7 years now and DS hardly remembers living in the UK although we've returned to visit family occasionally.

Interestingly, he became very confident when he started school here the following September which I think was mostly down to meeting lots of new children in various playgrounds throughout that summer.

Good luck with the move!

PinkWaferBiscuit Thu 14-Oct-21 12:23:57


Oh and she has been to NY on trips with us while dh was working before so it’s not totally unfamiliar iyswim. She does enjoy American tv etc.

How old was she when you last went. It's quite possible she doesn't actually remember much of these previous trips if it's been a few years since she went. Also it's worth remembering visiting somewhere and living there are very different situations.

Dinosauria Thu 14-Oct-21 12:26:16

I agree after Christmas. She is only 7 a few months is still a long time in her life. However agree that no one else can tell her, so if there is any chance someone will tell her then you need to tell her now.

leafinthewind Thu 14-Oct-21 12:28:16

We moved ours at 7 and 3. We told them both as soon as we were sure it was happening (and like a pp, warned them that it was a possibility even before that). The eldest was/is a worrier, but it didn't taint her remaining time in the UK. She is also a planner, so would talk about next Christmas/Easter/Halloween - and I couldn't have lied, so we just told the truth. It have them a chance to ask repeated questions (no, we can't take the Wendy house; yes your bed is coming; no we don't know where we'll be living yet; yes, we'll start off in a hotel). Being a planner, she planned and baked her own leaving cake. And then we left. All that was fine. The hard part was arriving!

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