Rain to Rainbows

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Dear Dharma,

I am a married man, 34 years old, and have 3 small children.  My wife and I both have decent jobs, and we could stay where we live quite happily for a long time.  I have recently applied for and been offered my dream job, with one catch.  The new position would require a large amount of travel, and at least 2 moves in the next 5-6 years, first to a regional branch office.  Then (assuming everything goes as expected) to the national office, and theoretically even to international headquarters.

My wife’s and my concern is how this uprooting will affect our kids. I had to move because of my father’s work often as a child, and I know how hard it is to always be the new kid each year at school, and never to be able to get the really close friends that stay with you your whole life. My wife didn’t have to move as a child, but because of that, she feels that staying in one place is the normal situation.

I know that kids are adaptable, and there is the thought that they will be better off if I have a higher paid job, but I can’t help wanting to shield my kids from the hardships I faced.

Can you give me a different perspective so I can make the argument that taking the new job and moving is not a bad thing?  For me, I think this is a great opportunity, but I can’t make that case if I don’t really believe it. So help Dharma!  Help me reconcile my head which says take the job, and my heart which says think of the children!

Bright Lights, Big City

Dear Big and Bright,

First a switcharoo, as Dharma needs a little something from you before we get started…

From where you sit in your life right now – 34 years old, seemingly successful in both career and family… – do you honestly look back on moving around as a kid as a hardship?  Again, this is from where you sit right now, maybe knowing a bit more about what hardship entails than you did when you were 9 years old.  Because… if you do… if you do really think that, then we have a bit of work to do here.

My friend, kids think everything is a fricken hardship.  Getting up in the morning, going to bed at night, not playing that video game, not eating that 600th cookie, changing their underwear, homework, yard work, house work, being polite to grandma, getting a job instead of being a slug – it’s all a major hardship to them.

What About You?

And as the parent… what’s your role?  Let them wallow endlessly in dirty ginch, eating Styrofoam in a game induced haze and flipping the bird to the rest of the world undisturbed, or do we encourage them to face hardships, adapt to changing situations with grace and humility, and basically step up and be a contributing member of their own mini society regardless of location and circumstance?

You’re right.  Kids are adaptable – but how do you know if you never give them something to adapt to. Protecting them, shielding them as you say, from life is doing them the biggest disservice ever, and shielding them from this potential life opportunity because there might be a few uncomfortable positions along the way gets a big thumbs down from Dharma.

I’m so hopeful that you and your wife can get on the same page on this, as this seems like an exciting opportunity for your entire family.  Change is difficult and moving is hard, no doubt about it.  Yet so many good things to come out of it, more than just the increased salary, which is an undisputed benefit to the situation.

Opportunities aren’t always obvious in the moment, and with a million clichés to support that sentiment, you know Dharma’s right.  Rain to rainbows, lemons to lemonade, clouds and silver linings, we could go on.  Give your kids the opportunity to experience that first hand.

Dharma

 

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