Moving to a New Home Won't Mess Up Your Toddler

toddler movingI have a relative, an older, female relation -- okay, whatever, I'm talking about one of my aunts. Whom I love dearly, in case she's reading this, so please don't get offended. Anyway, ever since I got pregnant with my first kid over 10 years ago, she's been preaching to me about how important it is to find a good, family-friendly location and put down roots. "Kids need stability," she's told me, over and over.

To be fair, the first time she brought up this subject, we lived in Manhattan in a studio apartment. Clearly that situation wasn't going to last too long. But our next stop wasn't the split-level house in a suburban town with good school districts and a low crime rate where my aunt was hoping we'd end up.

It was a larger but still too-small apartment in Brooklyn, which was followed by another Brooklyn apartment, which was followed by ... well, we still haven't settled down.

But guess what? Turns out kids might not need that particular brand of "stability" after all.

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I took great comfort in a recent essay on this topic by one of my favorite motherhood-centric writers, Ariel Gore. A bit of a nomad herself, she's made the discovery that kids' feelings of stability and security depend on tight family bonds, not location, location, location. There's something to be said for learning how to thrive in a variety of situations, and knowing that you have people who'll love you and support you no matter where you go.

Still, I understand the anxiety parents have over uprooting their kids, especially toddlers, who can't yet communicate how they're processing big changes. I remember feeling, when my daughter was a toddler, that it would absolutely blow her mind (in a bad way) if we moved out of our neighborhood, away from her favorite playground and the kids she hung out with every day and the bakery with the little muffins she loved.

The truth is, at 10, she barely remembers those people and places. And when she does, it's with a sort of fond nostalgia, not tortured longing. She has not in fact ever uttered the words, "You ruined my life when we moved!"

I know my aunt still disapproves, but whaddya gonna do? Such is the life of gypsies.

Do you think moving to new places is bad for toddlers?

 

Image via Ankur P/Flickr

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