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Thursday, 22 March 2001

Teen Angry Over Move

Written by  Naomi Raz, MSW

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QWe moved across country two years ago and our 16-year-old daughter still hasn't forgiven us for it. She blames us for uprooting her and she misses her friends terribly. Because she was very attached to her friends, we promised her before we came that she could go back summers. As the summer approaches and she prepares to leave, the pain of separation from her old friends seems to surface even more. She has good friends here but she seems fixated on the fact that we've uprooted her. I want to let her express her feelings, but I feel she becomes abusive. Is it a mistake to keep sending her back? How can we help her resolve this painful issue?

AMoving an adolescent is a not a simple matter. Of all age groups, they have the hardest time adjusting to a move and it's understandable that your daughter has very painful feelings.

As an adolescent, she's also in the midst of a natural process of separating emotionally from her parents. In addition to the fact that there are objective reasons for being angry with her parents, you can't separate emotionally from someone about whom you feel wonderful. In order to separate from your parents, you have to make them into the enemy. Developmentally she's doing what's appropriate. It would be worse for her to hold in her feelings.

It's good that you want her to express her feelings and doing so will help her. She needs to express her pain to you. And you need to take responsibility for uprooting her. Blaming is not the same as abusing. You need to be emotionally ready to listen to what she has to say. It won't work to say, "Talk to me but do so in a way that I can hear you and enjoy it." Your daughter is dealing with difficult feelings. You had good intentions, you thought the move would be better for everyone, but basically you did uproot her.

This doesn't mean you should let her be abusive. You can say, "I'd like to listen but let's try to negotiate some guidelines on the way we talk. We don't want to be cursed or yelled at." But you do need to be ready to really listen and to contain and absorb your daughter's pain in a non-defensive and non-recriminatory fashion.

You did make a commitment to her to send her back summers and if you're going to have any credibility with her, you have to stand by your commitment.

It's probably going to be a long journey of adjustment. You need to be strong enough to deal simultaneously with adolescent separation and this specific problem.

Last modified on Monday, 06 June 2011 12:41
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Naomi Raz, MSW

Naomi Raz, MSW, is a psychotherapist who specializes in relocation.

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