When a family has to change locations, at the top of the list for concerns for most parents is their children’s ability to make new friends and adjust to a new environment. They hold tight to the perceived benefits such as character building or even experiencing new cultures, but in the end it seems they can do more harm than good. A recent New York Times article reports that relocation during childhood can cause psychological damage that continues into adulthood.
Serial movers are more likely to have behavioral problems, perform poorly in school and have fewer “quality” relationships which can lead to lower satisfaction and well-being as adults. Apparently, they were also more likely to have died by the time researchers tried to contact them for a follow-up 10 years later.
However, before you start panicking about the lasting damage you have caused your child by leading an expat lifestyle, it is important to note that certain personalities are more likely to be adversely affected by relocation. Kids who are introverted or who are “moody, nervous or high strung” are more at risk than extroverts for all the harmful effects of a mobile lifestyle. Also, the article points out the importance of the reason why the move was made, noting than if the relocation is motivated by foreclosure or divorce the long term difficulties a child may face are influenced by more than just the move itself.
Photo by haglundc of Flickr.