Expat Planning: Telling your loved ones that you’re leaving

Nov 9, 2020

“To be what you must, you must give up what you are.”    Yusef Islam/Cat Stevens

Have you decided? Are you leaving your home country to seek adventure, excitement, and a new perspective elsewhere?  If so, have you told the people you love?

Telling the people we love that we are leaving is often the hardest and most procrastinated step in the pre-pat process.

Here are some suggestions.

Telling your kids
I often say if you want your young adult children to grow up, tell them you are moving to Africa.  In my experience, my decision to move away did more to kick my children out of the nest than any words of encouragement about finding one’s self or settling down.

With the childhood home now occupied by others, my children were free to make their own adult choices and let go of outdated family expectations.  Our move away was good for everyone.  And our family is still close.  So, call a family meeting and tell them. You may be surprised at their reaction.

Until the next time
By Esther Ann

Telling your parents
This one is a little harder. Everyone’s experience will be different. You should know by now what your parents’ trigger point is; be sensitive, stay calm, and don’t back down.

The question of when to tell seems to be a personal one.  It may be better to talk about your explorations early and often, so they get used to the idea. Or if the expected reaction could be unpleasant, perhaps you’d rather drop the bomb and get out of town ASAP.  Kindness and respect will guide your decision.

Telling a lover
I’ve done this, I have packed my bags and hopped a train to see the world with the express purpose of putting distance between myself and a lover.  I’ve never regretted it.

If this is your ulterior motive, embrace it.  Announce you are leaving with compassion and respect but with determination.  Have faith in yourself and get on with it.  You have a right to feel free, to laugh out loud, to grow in your own way.

Telling your ex
The big question here is:  Are you taking the children? If so, see an attorney.  If there is no legal connection between you and your ex anymore, or if the relationship is an old story you rarely revisit, then perhaps there is no need to mention your plans.  However, if you still have an emotional connection and your lives overlap, then simple courtesy and respect should dictate your actions.

But first, examine your motives.  If you are seeking an emotional reaction, are you prepared for any possible reaction in response, even indifference?

Telling everyone else

It’s not easy
By Jan Tinneberg

There are others, of course:  friends, clients, co-workers. Even the service people who work for you and whose income will be affected.  Recognize you have a presence and an impact on those around you.  Choose your own path but leave with grace, compassion, and respect.  You never know when you might pass this way again.

Have you crossed this bridge?  How did you handle it?  Please share your story. I know there are others burdened by the weight of their decision and dreading their next family dinner.

by: Dana Dwyer

Editor’s Note:  – TCI is a full-service provider of expat education and transition services. Our private platform allows our global expat community and our Expat Alliance of in-country expats and experts to interact so that all can successfully embrace the expat experience.  Learn More…


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