Relocating to another country is an exciting prospect, with a wealth of new possibilities and adventures awaiting you. It can be daunting, though, and sometimes frightening for families. Your children’s reaction to moving to another country could be massive enthusiasm and excitement or a complete rejection of the idea and an unwillingness to leave their old life and friends behind.
A move overseas is generally tougher on older children, especially teenagers, who are asserting their independence and taking their first steps into adulthood. While they might be mature enough to see the benefits of living abroad (learning a new language; making a whole new social network) they may also dig their heels in and resent being taken away from their friends, teammates, and social network.
With younger children (ages four to eight) expect a ton of questions about the move. While they might be initially reluctant to leave home, kids are quick to adapt, make new friends, and learn new languages. With pre-teens (nine to twelve) it will be a little trickier. Experts advise parents of children in this age group to encourage them to research as much as possible about their new home. Keeping a diary (especially a video diary) of their new life; learning about Punta Cana, areas of interest, and local history and geography will help children adapt better.
Babies and toddlers will adapt the fastest and with the least amount of tears, but only after repeated assurances that although they are about to leave all they have known, everything is going to be fine.
Help children with learning Spanish, if possible, well in advance of the move. The faster your children can converse in a new language, the quicker and easier they will adapt to their new life and school, and will more easily make new friends.
Obviously you want to relocate in a safe neighborhood with good schools; a place where your children can flourish socially, academically, and creatively. Do your research as a family.
What sort of neighborhood do your kids want to live in?
What sort of healthcare will they have access to?
What sort of school will they attend? How does the curriculum compare to where they are now? Will they have to be held back a grade to catch up with the locals?
Before you leave, focus on the positive, exciting aspects of moving overseas. Explain each step of the way: do not keep your kids in the dark. Provide snippets of information about their new home, and involve them in the planning so they are not overwhelmed. An open dialogue is best and will ensure the family bond is strengthened by the trip, not torn asunder.
Regardless of the ages of your children, make sure that you mark the occasion. Leaving home and old friends behind is a big moment in any child’s life. Throw a going-away party for your children, and make sure you have the Internet in your new location so they can keep in touch with their friends.