Making the decision to emigrate is a huge one that has plenty of repercussions for the whole family. There are numerous considerations that you’re going to have to make before you decide to settle in a new country, including the safety of your children, the climate you’re about to move to, and the language barriers you’ll need to overcome – not to mention the practical tasks ahead.
While some of those tasks, including gathering medical records and documents, are necessary evils of emigration, others will become integral to your child’s acceptance and enjoyment of their move. The adventure of emigration is one that can be embraced by the whole family, as long as you are prepared to be open about everything you’re likely to experience.
Conduct your research
Whether you’ve been assigned a destination by a new job offer or you’re simply in the mood for a change, it’s essential that you research the country you’ll be moving to. Take the time to familiarize yourself with customs and traditions, medical facilities, opportunities for expats, and the kind of climate you’re likely to come up against, in addition to crime statistics, language, and recreational activities. There are several wonderful countries with large communities of English-speaking expats that you could choose from, including Switzerland, Germany, Canada, Bahrain, New Zealand, and Singapore; what could each offer your family? Include your child in your research, and encourage him or her to ask questions. How would you feel about moving blindly to a new home?
Become a part of the community
It’s important for adults and children to seek out and integrate with their local expat community, making friends with those who have experienced emigration and continue to enjoy the opportunities presented by this wonderful new country. What stories do they have to share? Can they offer any helpful advice that will ease your child’s fears or allay your own concerns?
It is important that you take the time to find a good international school that caters to expat children, such as the Singapore International School for Australian expats. Classes filled with familiar faces will help your child to integrate and form new relationships. Take a proactive role in helping your child to settle by suggesting clubs and societies he or she might like to join and by seeking out new experiences together. This adventure is going to be a huge learning curve for all of you.
Talk to your child
The simplest piece of advice we can offer is to talk to your child, regardless of how well you think they’ll understand the challenges ahead. Children are like sponges when it comes to processing new information, and most will adapt relatively quickly to the language, climate, and culture that you’re about to become a part of.
Nevertheless, it is essential that you are patient with your little ones; they might not be willing to grasp everything immediately, and that’s okay. Encourage discussion, and create a memory box of your home, family and friends that your child can refer to when he or she is feeling apprehensive or sad. Emigration involves a huge amount of upheaval, so keep elements of your child’s routine intact as much as possible. There’s no reason that your child’s fears can’t be converted into excitement with time.
Remember that nurturing your child’s development can be testing at times, and you’re going to be facing such obstacles in an entirely new environment. Emigration is all about compromise, and it’s about deciding what’s best for your family as a family. Above all, focus on the positives of emigration, and turn new experiences into adventures that your child can cherish. Your child will have reservations about this upheaval, but that’s okay; you’re about to make a whole new set of memories as a family.