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You are here: Home Family & Kids Kids Relocating and the single parent
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23/03/2011Relocating and the single parent

Relocating and the single parent If you think moving abroad is hard, try doing it as a single parent. What kind of issues do such families face - and how can they make the relocation go smoothly?

Single parents face unique challenges when it comes to relocation. They need dependable assistance, contingency plans, and lots of practical advice about the steps to take before, during and after the move.

Parents must evaluate the amount of help they will receive with the preparations for moving, as well as the actual moving chores.

Single parents also have the unique concern of whether their custodial rights allow them to move their children. If parents have the legal right to move their children, they also need to ask themselves questions such as:

  • What is my short- and long-term financial situation?
  • Will my child support be steady?
  • What support systems (family and friends) will be available in the new location?
  • How frequently will my children be able to see their other parent?
  • How feasible will it be for my children to visit grandparents and other extended family members?
  • Will my hours be flexible enough to accommodate daycare and school schedules, as well as unexpected sick days?
  • How will I obtain dependable help for routine and emergency situations?
  • What type of living accommodations will best suit my needs?

Single parents need support systems and friendships because they don't have the traditional family unit to depend on. So they must strive to understand as much as possible about the new community — including the type of accommodation they need.

In addition, they need to research the educational systems, social life, culture and activities of the new community. It is important that adults and children have a realistic picture of what lies ahead. And with the help of the internet, anyone now can research and visualise new homes, communities and schools before moving.

If moving at the request of an employer, they can ask for help in finding services and other needs. Some relocation management companies offer single-specific information through their websites.

Children's challenges

Whether or not children are accustomed to "sailing" through moves, there is no assurance as to how another move will affect them, especially if a divorce or personal trauma has occurred recently. Parents need to be watching for behavioural changes that signify a possible problem. These signs can include any combination of the following:

  • sudden reading difficulties;
  • changes in attention span or study habits;
  • weight loss or gain;
  • altered enthusiasm or energy levels;
  • strained relationships with family and/or friends; or
  • disturbed sleep patterns.


Children will worry less about a significant change in their lives (such as relocation) if they are proactive and involved in the process. There are many chores that children can manage, which, believe it or not, will make moving more fun for them.

They could try:

  • sorting through their belongings for outgrown clothing and toys;
  • planning their new bedrooms;
  • learning about the new community;
  • helping with the relocation travel plans and lists;
  • taking care of their pet's travel needs; and
  • making lists of items they want to take on their trip.

Before the move

When employees visit a community to assess the job and housing, the following should be on anyone's "to do" list.

Carefully evaluate schools and/or daycare facilities. Understand the school's safety policy during school hours and for after-school activities. If they have young children, parents should know if there is a before- and after-school programme for their offspring's care.


 Children should be encouraged to stay in contact with friends 

Research services for personal assistance. Dependable help will be needed almost immediately with chores such as child care, transportation to and from school, and unforeseen events or emergencies.

Life in a new city

After the move, parents need to stay abreast of how their children are adjusting by discussing school and personal issues during routine (and frequent) casual family chats.

Single parents can feel doubly guilty about removing their children from familiar surroundings and make allowances for unattractive or unhealthy behaviours by being more lenient in bedtimes or responsibilities. However, it is vital to maintain a sense of continuity after a move. Knowing what they can depend on, and having the same expectations, schedules, and discipline will help children to feel comfortable and secure in their new surroundings.

Also, as important as it is to make new friends, parents should encourage children to stay in contact with family and former friends by exchanging pictures and letters. Email and pre-paid telephone cards are great ways to help children over the hurdle of settling into a new environment.


Emergency preparation

There are many statistics that state how accidents and illness occur more frequently during or just after a move — at a time when people are least prepared for an emergency. Therefore, immediately establish good, sound emergency planning. Know where to locate assistance for routine and emergency care, understand how personal medical insurance will be affected by the move, and be aware of emergency procedures, which can vary from city to city.

Individuals who are engaged to care for children must have a clear understanding of their responsibilities, the house rules, and what the children may or may not do. Post emergency telephone numbers near the main telephone for the local hospital, ambulance, poison control centre, police and fire departments and contacts for the parent and close neighbours.

Also good to have are specific directions to the home from several main routes. If an emergency occurs, it is important for the caller to be able to give clear directions to the home when speaking to emergency personnel.

Finally, explain to children the rules and regulations for playground activities and how to deal with strangers. Be sure they know the individuals from whom they can safely accept rides or assistance.

Creating the new family

Divorce or separation often leaves parents angry at each other — so it is important children are assured they are not the cause of the anger. Parents who are estranged can work together to ease their children's concerns and loneliness. For instance, a distant parent can ease the separation by making frequent telephone calls or sending emails. Another way to stay close to children is to record messages and/or tell stories (real or invented) and send them via "snail" mail.

Children need to know that they are safe and secure, as well when and how often they will see the other parent or extended family members. Parents should be realistic and honest with their children's questions and never try to sweep their fears away. Children's feelings, whether negative or positive, need to be validated and discussed in a manner that is appropriate for each one's age.

Regardless of the circumstances surrounding the move, it is essential for single parents to take time for themselves, get plenty of rest and exercise, and find a support group.

Single parents shoulder a double responsibility, especially during relocation, but they should not have to think of themselves as an island. No move should be a step down in lifestyle. Anyone who is moving needs to know that they are important enough to warrant employer assistance, no matter what their circumstances.

September 2004

Beverly D. Roman, BR Anchor Publishing 

Reprinted and edited with the permission of Worldwide ERC(R) from MOBILITY.

1 reaction to this article

Vernon Pearce posted: 2013-06-07 12:09:45

Guardian Angels is a support group for singles parents, based in Javea in the north of the Costa Blanca, it has members from Valencia down to Cartagena. Further details and sign-up form on our website -

1 reaction to this article

Vernon Pearce posted: 2013-06-07 12:09:45

Guardian Angels is a support group for singles parents, based in Javea in the north of the Costa Blanca, it has members from Valencia down to Cartagena. Further details and sign-up form on our website -

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