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Why Moving For Your Family Can Be Hazardous To Your Family

Dec 26, 2007
You've got a wonderful job, a nice place to live and lots of friends. But you realize you miss your family, who live five hundred miles away.

Maybe you just retired and you want to be closer to your aging parents. Or you want to watch your grandchildren grow up. Or you want to get closer to siblings and old friends.

Should you move? Here are some questions to help gain insight as you wrestle with a tough decision.

(1) Are you moving from a sense of excitement and hope -- or from a nagging feeling of obligation?

Every so often, I get calls from clients who begin, "I moved to be near my beloved friends and family. And once I arrived, I realized they didn't need me. In fact, they liked me better when we lived farther apart! How can I get my old career and my old life back?"

(2) How will family dynamics change once you are fifteen minutes away instead of 500 miles?

Often you grow closer together and find new sources of strength and inspiration. But sometimes a retiree becomes a taken-for-granted, round-the-clock baby-sitter. A busy self-employed professional is expected to participate in time-consuming family rituals. And more.

(3) What's your family like today -- not one, five or ten years ago?

You move to spend time together. Do you still have a lot in common?

Over the years, couch potatoes become fitness fanatics. Television addicts discover the public library and the bookstore. Even a change in movie preferences can affect the quality of a relationship.

Ten years ago, I wasn't interested in basketball or dogs. Needless to say, I get into some very interesting conversations with anyone I haven't seen since 1998.

(4) Will you enjoy your new city?

Even with a close family, you need your own life. Will your new community support opportunities to grow and change?

(5) Can you find career satisfaction?

About a third of my client calls focus on long-distance job search, with good reason. You have to walk a fine line between showing potential employers you're motivated to move and sounding so eager you'll take whatever you can get.

Typically I refer clients with complex family questions to a specialized professional. But I would never discount the impact of career change on family dynamics. No one wants to spend five years living with resentment because "I gave up a wonderful career for you."

There is good news. With careful planning, my clients usually find creative ways to enjoy the family and also maintain a satisfying career. But they have to begin by asking these tough but insightful questions.
About the Author
Cathy Goodwin, PhD, wrote Making the Big Move, a guide to reducing the stress of relocation and finding meaning in your move. Visit her site
Midlife Career Strategy and check out her book:
Relocation As a Life Transition
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