Q: Due to a job transfer, we're moving to a different region of the country. How can we help our kids adjust to a cross-country move?
Jim: First, realize that this can be a tough transition for kids. According to Parents Magazine, "Toddlers will mourn the loss of their room and the house they've always lived in. School-age children will mourn the loss of their friends and their school. Teenagers, along with mourning all of the above, are likely to feel anger at their parents for a major life change that is beyond their control."
With all of this mourning going on, you should allow your kids time to grieve. So be patient with them. Life will eventually feel normal for them again, but it won't happen overnight.
In her book "After the Boxes Are Unpacked," author Susan Miller suggests several ways of helping your kids make the transition as smoothly as possible.
-- Don't play down the importance of the changes they're going through. Telling them that "everything will work out" isn't necessarily the best approach.
-- Encourage them to express their fears and concerns. If they're too young to verbalize their thoughts, help them. If you have teenagers, ask them to express their feelings.
-- Let them do the talking and make up your mind to be a good listener.
-- Whatever you do, don't deny your children's feelings. That will only increase their sense of isolation and frustration.
-- Don't feel that you need to shoulder all the blame or justify the move to your kids. It's not up to you to solve all their problems.
-- Remember that it's normal for some children to experience a temporary regression in behavior after a move. If you have school-aged kids, you may even see a drop in their grades. If that's the case, don't panic. Give them the time and space they need in order to adjust to the new situation.
Q: My daughter is really starting to get into the "emo" style of clothing. We have told her we won't allow her to dress in an emo fashion, but we really don't understand what it means to be emo. Can you tell us a little about what this means and if it is destructive?
Bob Waliszsewski, director of Plugged In: This is a difficult question to answer because the term "emo" means different things to different people. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, it is "a style of rock music influenced by punk rock and featuring introspective and emotionally fraught lyrics." At our media review website, www.pluggedin.com, our staff has reviewed some albums that would be considered emo in style and have decent lyrics and melodies, while other albums in the genre are filled with dark, unhealthy themes. So there is no one-size-fits-all answer here.
The same goes for emo fashion. Some emo kids adopt the look to fit into a current trend, while others do so to indicate that they belong to a group that has a particular mindset and attitude to convey.
In either case, it's necessary to consider what being emo means in your community. That's something we can't answer for you, but it's a worthwhile question for you and your daughter to consider. In her mind, what does she hope to communicate to those around her by embracing this style?
Sit down with her and simply ask her what being "emo" means to her. Does she merely want to dress like the other kids in her peer group? Or is she hoping to convey some sort of inner angst or rebellion? Her answers to those questions will be instructive as you consider how to proceed.
Jim Daly is a husband and father, an author, and president of Focus on the Family and host of the Focus on the Family radio program.