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moving houses and countries - possible impacts on 2,5+ year old? please share your experiences

(13 Posts)
quietus Sun 14-Apr-13 20:48:28

Dear all,
It is really a pressing issue and it makes me totally depressed. My partner and I are moving for work to another country. Our situation is pretty complicated as even now we don't live together (jobs, recession, etc..), and this is going to continue in the country to which we are moving: it was me who got a really good job offer on a preliminary two year contract, but the closest job he was able to find was in a town some 200 km away from where me and our child is going to be. this means that he will continue to be "the weekend daddy." we are going to be foreigners there with an exception that I can speak the language.
I am really very depressed because I fear that this constant moving and uprooting might have a significant emotional impact on our son. DH currently spends his time with me (with shorter residences at my parents, in yet another country!), but the plan is that he will be two months now with his father and then with me again - I have already found a nursery in the place where we will live.
During the 2,5 years of his life he has already changed many residences, and he likes being with me as much as he likes being with his father or with my family. However, I fear that perhaps he does have some traumatic experience, which he is not able to express? He has adopted my language as his mother tongue, he uses a bit of his father's language with his father, and he sings all of his songs in English (learnt in the nursery). This is something that he possesses, and I am scared he will become confused, depressed and quiet when he finds himself in a situation that other children won't know his songs... It breaks my heart and I can't stop crying when I think about it.

People are telling me that this is not true, because many of our older family friends, including my own family members had to move around under really extreme situations, such as being refugees during the Second World War, and this didn't leave any impact on them, so why moving around because of parents' jobs would have an impact on a child?
I can't totally buy this argument, and I can't discuss this situation with anybody, including my partner, because it is breaking my heart.
I see other people happily settling down, but this doesn't seem like a possibility for us and for our little one. I feel so guilty to the extent that I really hate my life and I think I am a really awful mother. What am I worth if I can't offer my little one a stable home?
I really really hate this situation, and I wish we could do something about it. It is not possible for us to stay back because of various reasons which I can't mention now.
My only hope is that this moving around will end soon, and I am really determined that this is our last move. I really don't want to do this to my little one once he is a bit older and mature enough to start making real friends. But I am still so scared of this constant uprooting...
Please share your experiences with me..

LittleEdie Wed 17-Apr-13 01:25:44

They care far more about being with you than about where they are.

quietus Wed 17-Apr-13 08:03:03

thanks a lot, Little.
Are you perhaps talking from your own experience?
Your respond meant so much to me because I wanted to believe that I am actually not doing any harm to my little DH!!

LittleEdie Wed 17-Apr-13 14:56:00

My parents moved countries when I was 2 and then 4, and it barely registered with me. Parents are the real continuity in children's lives, not places. You say you feel bad for not offering a stable home, but I think the most important stability is in how they are cared for and loved, not where they live.

Saltedcaramellavacake Wed 17-Apr-13 15:05:37

We moved abroad with a 2 and a 4 year old. They only cared about our family being together. If your DS is used to spending time with you and other time with your DH then that will be his constant. We put our kids in an international school so English was common between home and school. They made friends easily. The thing I have noticed is they do not like goodbyes and they do believe that people leave and they dont see them again in person for a long time (we're in a country where there is a lot of transience and our families are not here). We try to keep up regular Skype etc to help. The book "Third Culture Kids" is a very good read for parents raising kids in these circumstances. It can have an impact but it gives lots of helpful hints about grounding your kids and giving them a sense of belonging.

quietus Wed 17-Apr-13 15:24:11

Dear LittleEdie and Salted,
Thanks so much for your input and insights, you made me feel sooooo much better.
One thing that I do is keeping a diary and different things (such as a development report from the nursery with nice photos), which one day could help my son if it ever comes to questions and identity crisis. Because I myself am moving around a lot, I find this practice extremely important as we tend to forget or modify our stories according to our own needs.
Saltie, thanks for the book recommendation - I am on my way to order it now on Amazon. smile


Portofino Wed 17-Apr-13 15:28:12

My dd was 2 when we moved to Belgium. She was fine. In fact she minded more when we moved house a couple of years later - even though her school/friends etc remained the same.

Saltedcaramellavacake Wed 17-Apr-13 16:27:35

You're very welcome, quietus. Try not to beat yourself up about the move. Like everyone, you're doing the best you can to give your son the best start in life, in the circumstances you've got. We had to move for my DH's job. It wasn't my ideal but it is what it is - you make the most of it and you hang in there together, giving lots of love to your little ones as you do it. No one can ask for anything more.

MaryRobinson Wed 17-Apr-13 18:50:28

Our kids were two and four when we moved. The older did miss her friends. But not the younger and successfully potty trained a couple if weeks later.

It will be fine.

SunshineandShandy Thu 18-Apr-13 05:47:17

Please don't worry about this. He will be fine if he is with you. My DD1 was 3 last week and is living in her 3rd country! In between we have spent time in both mine and DH's country whilst stuff was being shipped etc.

They adapt so quickly. We move everything with us so 'home is home' if that makes sense. All her toys arrive, her bed and duvet covers, slide etc, so she is happy.

I promise you, they settle in much quicker than the adults! Good luck.

quietus Thu 18-Apr-13 16:54:29

Dear all,
Thanks so much for your time and your support. It means so much to me. I guess the little ones don't see the world through our eyes, so what bother us doesn't seem to bother them! I guess I should stop projecting my fears on my son. You don't know how much it means to me that so many of you shared your experience!


SingleMama Mon 22-Apr-13 22:28:00

Hey Quietus
I'm really jealous of you!
I thought that it was necessary to 'settle down' and have kids so 'settled ' when pregnant with first child. Now 7 years later I wish that I had been more mobile before eldest started school. I was living in a foreign language country and miss speaking the langahe terribly! The early years are perfect for moving countries. You will have a very adaptable and multilingual child. I'm very jealous! The grass is always greener! Don't be upset. Be happy :-)

quietus Tue 23-Apr-13 09:13:53

Dear singlemama,

Thanks, you really made me smile. smile
I will let you know how it goes. Maybe you'll be even more jealous of me, or I will become the real conservative mama who won't even move from one neighbourhood to another just to make her kids feel "settled." smile
but isn't this issue of "settling down" interesting? I really wonder what in the end it does really mean "to settle."

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