Pros and Cons of Moving Overseas with Teenagers 

June 2022
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Making the decision to accept an international assignment has the potential to be career defining. It may also be life changing for you and your family. If you have teenage children, it can present a host of potential issues. 

Teenagers are young people going through a significant transitional stage of life. They are experiencing puberty and the complex physical and mental changes that take place as we transition from childhood into adulthood. Choosing this period to introduce even more change into your child’s life requires careful consultation, communication and consideration if it is to be a success.

If an opportunity for an international assignment has arisen in your career and it is something you would like to consider accepting, there are steps you can take to help get teenage children on board. While the decision to move may initially be a source of conflict at an already tumultuous time there are likely to be advantages to providing your teen with experience of life overseas. 

When you initially introduce the idea of moving abroad, even for a short period to a teenager, it may not be welcome. In fact the idea may go down like a lead balloon. There is a chance you will be accused of ‘ruining their life’. Although difficult to hear, it is important to understand where this initial anger is coming from:

  • Teenagers form very strong social connections. They begin to move away from their families towards their peer group. Acceptance in their peer group is much more important than acceptance at home. 
  • At the same time, teenagers have not fully matured so they often still believe that everything in the family home happens because of or for them. Young people can struggle with the idea that their parents have lives and goals of their own.
  • Hormonal changes make teenagers prone to angry or dramatic outbursts. Particularly when faced with challenging circumstances or feelings. 

Each of these elements may combine so when you introduce the concept of an international move, it may be beyond your teens ability to see anything but the negatives.

Give yourself the best chance of success by getting your teen involved right from the beginning. Regular, clear communication is essential and so is providing them with some control over the situation. If they have legitimate concerns around a move now, are there alternative options your family can consider? More on that later. 

Let’s begin by looking at the positives of dummy moving abroad with a teenager:

1.      They get to experience a new culture

Living overseas provides your teens with advantages later in life. They are likely to find it easier to integrate and adjust to different people and cultures personally and professionally. The experience is likely to improve your teens verbal skills, knowledge and understanding of how the world works. 


2.       Better understanding of the world

Living in a different country shows your teenager how life varies positively and negatively around the world. They may be exposed to differing quality of life or issues that they have not come across in their home country. 


3.       Building resilience 

Resilience is our ability to bounce back from adversity and it is one of the most powerful gifts a parent can instil in a teen. Life is difficult at times, challenges and mistakes happen. By facing the difficulty of moving overseas your teen is likely to discover they can handle more than they first imagined. 


4.       Integrate

Finding their feet in a new culture is likely to help young adults settle into new situations later in life. If they have ambitions to go to college or study overseas, a shorter trip in their teenage years may make this transition without the support of family easier for them.


5.       Improved language skills

If you are moving to a country that uses a different language, the immersive experience is likely to help your teen pick it up quickly. They may not become fluent, depending on the length of your stay but you are providing them with the best chance of picking up the basics. Teenage brains are like sponges, there’s a good chance they will pick up the local language faster than you do!


6.       Opportunity to make new friends

Of course, your child is going to be sad to leave their own friends behind but moving to another country provides them with the opportunity to meet a new group of people. They may make friends that last a lifetime during this period.


7.       Family bonding

Although teens may be reluctant to bond with their family, spending so much time together during the moving process may strengthen your relationship with them. Hopefully they turn to you to discuss some of their challenges or have more time to dedicate to family.

Of course, a big decision like this may have some drawbacks. Your teen is at a pivotal time in their education and life, the disruption of an international move may have some negative consequences:


1. Educational disruption

Most parents' biggest concern when considering an overseas move with a teenage family is the disruption to their education. Timing is crucial when it comes to minimising the impact of a move. Try to avoid moving during major exam years. When possible, move at the beginning of the summer holidays so your teen has some settling in time before starting a new school in a new country. Research international schools in your destination country. If you are moving from the UK, US or France, they may teach the syllabus your child is already studying. It may also be worth researching other forms of education like dummy boarding school in your home country so your child can continue with their current studies. 


2. Loss of peer group

There is no doubt your teen is likely to miss their peer group at home. They’ll miss how their life used to be. When discussing the potential move, try to put plans in place to ease fears they may have around losing peers. Plan for staying in touch using technology. Research extracurriculars they could get involved in to make new friends. If possible, plan a visit back to your home country during your assignment or have their close friend visit. 


3. Missing out on life experiences

What will your teens' peers experience while you are away? School formals, important exams, graduations? All of these life experiences are things your teenager may only have the opportunity to experience once. Communication is going to be key to navigate this element of moving overseas. Can you postpone the move until after an event? Allowing some room for negotiation around elements like this may help your teen feel listened to and get them on board with the move.    


4. Resentment

There’s no denying that an international move is challenging for every member of a family. You have to contend with the logistics of moving, starting a new role and potential dummy culture shock as you settle into your new home. For your teen, all of these feelings are going to be amplified. If they are unable or unwilling to settle in your new home there is a possibility the move could lead to resentment that outlives the international assignment. To minimize the potential for longer term hurt, involve your teens in the conversation as early as possible. Try to be mindful of their feelings and emotions when making the decision to go.


Accepting an international assignment at a pivotal time for your family is likely to be one of the most difficult decisions you make. If you ultimately decide accepting the assignment is the right thing for you and the young adults in your life, dummy international health insurance ensures you have access to private healthcare should you need it in your temporary home.