Tuesday Topic: Preparing Families for an Overseas Move

From Liz: We are in the support raising stage, and I am wondering what you did to get your families ready for your new host country?  We have little ones (3 and 20 months) so any suggests for the little people in the family would be great! (*Please feel free to also offer advice for those moving with older kids, as I know of a few of you who will soon be moving with older children who might be looking for helpful tips!)

(* added by Ashley)

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7 Responses to “Tuesday Topic: Preparing Families for an Overseas Move”


  1. 1 Sarah Joy Case July 6, 2010 at 12:12 pm

    At that age, start teaching the bathroom habits of your host country! Here in Mexico, paper goes in the trash can, and I had to be diligent with my littles every time I came, whether it was the first time (Where I learned my lesson because my three year old stopped up the plumbing for the entire apartment complex and they had to dig up the street…) or coming back from furlough. Children that small are so resilient! They love new things, and if you can keep a happy, excited attitude, they will be excited too. Also, I don’t know where you are going, but make sure you know safe food practices of your new home. Purified drinking water, how to cleanse veggies and fruit. It will help you if there are problems with the water! When I cam back from furlough with my older kids, 7 and 8, it was more difficult, and they were missing family, having to learn new things. Lots of patience, and a firm schedule is helpful to get them on their feet again feeling normal.

  2. 2 Susan July 6, 2010 at 12:57 pm

    We prayed a lot with our kids about the upcoming move and transition…every night as we prayed together about the new school, new friends, new house, etc. It was neat to see them too step out in faith trusting God for His grace and provision for them. Then how exciting to look back with them and see God help and enable. (our kids are older though (16, 13, 11…but can still be done with younger ones!)

    We found the younger our kids the easier they transitioned and the older they got the harder time they had.

    I too think a positive attitude by mom and dad is key. They pick up quick what we really think about the upcoming whatever…we always tried to be honest about our struggles with them (more as they get older) but always with a firm confidence and positive heart (not always easy of course! but we worked hard at it!).

  3. 3 Celeste July 6, 2010 at 4:11 pm

    HI, I just had to comment because my kids were the EXACT same ages as yours when we came 2 years ago. If the people look a lot different where you are going, show as much video and pictures now to expose them and then role play how they can interact, esp. if you know some actual names or how they will be interacting with people(a few introductory words in the language, etc). In hindsight we should have also practiced power outages & had a flashlight search game:) The attitude thing is a key, especially with the foods, we started before arriving just getting them to try everything and to be thankful(still working on it!)

    I think people everywhere are gracious to kids so don’t worry about them knowing all the culturally acceptable things right away, i don’t think we’ve gotten them all right either. For us teaching them to stay close by us and obey the first time before we got here has literally saved their lives numerous times so i couldn’t encourage that enough. They are at a great age and they will see this as a big adventure, looking to you all the way.

  4. 4 Shilo July 6, 2010 at 4:34 pm

    A globe was very helpful to our three year old. At that age, concrete concepts seem to work well.
    Otherwise, the best encouragement I can give is to be at rest with the move yourself. Kids pick up so fast on our insecurities, difficulties, etc (which are bound to come with an international move!!). They will need lots of extra love, hugs and special time together (even though you feel so busy you don’t know how you can squeeze it in!!).
    Blessings as you step out in faith! His grace is sufficient!

  5. 5 Ellie July 6, 2010 at 9:06 pm

    We moved when our kids were 6,4,2, and newborn. I think a big key in moving kids overseas, like someone mentioned above, is to be relaxed and trusting yourself. Kids will pick up on how you talk and how you question about the move.

    A second big key is to listen. We think we might know what is going on in those tiny heads, but we don’t. Ask questions like, “Is there anything you want to know about where we are going? About where or how we are going to live? Listen. I was surprised to learn that my little kids were not worried about what it would look like or what language the people would speak, but “Will I have a bed and a blanket over there?” It was a perfectly logical question when I realized that they had seen me pack, but no blankets or beds went in the suitcases. I assured them that “auntie” had already got them beds, sheets, blankets, table, chairs, sofa, and everything they needed.

    I would caution about too much explanations, photos, or videos, or even explanations about the globe to little, little kids. With their lack of anything concrete to tie those explanations to, they can come up with some very outlandish ideas of what the world will be like. Simple is easier. “We are going to move to a new country. It will be very much the same as here – there will be people who live in houses and eat food. It will be different, too. It will be warmer/colder than here. People will be a little more/less brown than we are. They will speak a different language which we can get to learn. Some people will speak English with us, too.”

    The big thing with little kids is to work n their security. To remind them often that you have cared for them since they were born, and you will continue to take care of them where you are going. Assure them of your presence and care – that will not change. And project faith, rest, and interested excitement about the move. They will copy you.

    Then I would before I go begin to teach my kids how to communicate with important people (like Grandma) by skype. Before I told my kids that Grandma is not coming and you won’t see her for a long time, I would practice with other means of communication. Give it a fun name like a “secret spy camera” (Please do not do this in a country where that could get you in trouble if they say that!). Then have them talk often to Grandma the secret way and the normal way. Then, as the time gets nearer, tell them that when you move, you won’t see Grandma as much, but will be able to talk to her in the secret way. Tell them that you will see her when you come back, but until then, Grandma and them can still be friends and talk.

    The most important things with little kids are how you are. You are their security, the thing that will not change. Be relaxed, demonstrate trusting, honesty (It’s ok to say, “I don’t know, but we’ll find out together when we get there.”), listening, assure them of your continued presence and care, and pray. Pray for them. Kids are very flexible, especially at that age, if they feel safe. You are that safety.

    Then, there are those who have to be careful if you go to “interesting” countries. We took four kids who loved to talk to a country that was not inviting our work. It took great care in even monitoring what our kids knew. We drilled their daddy’s “job” in their heads and were careful not to speak about other activities in front of them. It was not until we came back when they were much older that they found out what we had been doing there! Be creative, and remember – do not tell a kid anything you do not want the world to know! 🙂

  6. 6 Liz July 7, 2010 at 9:13 pm

    Thanks ladies! What good thoughts! Some we are doing already, and some we will be starting soon. So excited to find a community of moms all over the world to help with some of these questions that my mom doesn’t even know need answers. I am thankful for that.

  7. 7 richelle July 11, 2010 at 3:34 am

    lots of great advice!

    one other key thing i’d add is that in the midst of your adjustment and their adjustments, don’t forget that each child is an individual and may or may not respond how you expect or how other people’s children have responded. we’ve now moved our family – either to the field, back stateside for home assignment or badk to the field 6 times – #7 move will be in just a few weeks.

    i spend much time praying for discernment and a patient, gentle spirit particularly through the times of transition. i don’t want to excuse things that need to be dealt with just because of the stress of moving (which is real and affects each child differently and may affect the same child differently at different times/ages), but i also want to show gentle grace during the challenging adventure of moving into a very different world than the one to which we’ve become accustomed.


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