Sage Advice: Retiring Couple Moves Teen Too Soon

By Amy Dickinson | May 30th, 2018

Ask Amy Teen Angst

Dear Amy: I’m retired, and my wife is retiring soon. We have been building a home two hours away (in another state), and will be moving there. This move has been planned for several years.

Our youngest son is about to graduate from high school. He was accepted into his university of choice, but with a one-semester deferral. Our son is very upset about leaving the only home he has ever known, and leaving his friends, even though his friends are all going away to school.

With my wife’s retirement, we need to reduce expenses, which we are doing by moving to an area with a reduced cost of living. The new location is a shore community well-known to us (we vacation there every year). Our other older children are happy about it.

I’m wondering if we jumped the gun, moving so soon after his graduation.

I feel terrible that he is so upset. He’s not acting out or being disrespectful; he’s just quietly saying that he hates the decision and doesn’t want to leave.

What should we do?

– Stressed in NY

Dear Stressed: Your son has reasons to feel anxious, disappointed and upset: He is not headed off to college at the same time as his peer group, and, once he does leave for college, he will not be returning to the only home he has ever known.

His reaction is expected, and appropriate. And he will survive it.

Part of the ebb and flow of family life is that the adults occasionally make choices their children don’t like, just as children sometimes make choices their parents don’t like.

You and your wife should acknowledge how tough this is. Give him a few options for ways to make this a little easier on him. Could he enlist some of his buddies to help with the move, and have them spend a week at the new house this summer? (This will help him to build some memories in the new location.)

Could he have use of a car over the October break to perhaps visit his closest pal at his college – or go back to his hometown during the fall break and stay with friends there?

Understand that you cannot fix this for him, or completely protect him from feeling a little lost during this vulnerable time. Listen, commiserate, and – yes – if you feel you have pushed too hard with the timing, say, “I know this is tough, and I’m really sorry.”

In the tradition of the great personal advice columnists, Chicago Tribune’s Amy Dickinson is a plainspoken straight shooter who relates to readers of all ages. She answers personal questions by addressing issues from both her head and her heart. A solid reporter, Dickinson researches her topics to provide readers with informed opinions and answers. Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068

© 2018 by Amy Dickinson

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