Preparing a child for Paris PARENT Q & A

May 24, 1998|By T. Berry Brazelton, M.D. | T. Berry Brazelton, M.D.,NEW YORK TIMES SPECIAL FEATURES

Q. My husband has a job opportunity that would require a two-year stay in Paris. We have two daughters, ages 9 and 4, and we're considering the move because it could be an exciting, educational opportunity for all of us.

Our 4-year-old is flexible, but our 9-year-old is a sensitive, quiet, bright child who needs time to adjust to changes. She says she does not want to go.

We feel that in the future she'll look back on the overseas experience as a wonderful memory. However, we don't want to traumatize her by taking this assignment.

A.I think your husband's career and keeping your family intact should come first. You can prepare your 9-year-old for such an adjustment, and it may be a very good thing for her in the long run.

If she starts French now, she may get to be the best linguist in the family. If you have a French friend, ask her to take the 9-year-old under her wing.

If you can, move to France before school begins - and try to find a good English-speaking school. Ask the teachers to help you help her adjust. Find her one good friend who is shy and reserved, as she is. It will be much easier for her to enter a strange group with a friend.

Children can learn from stress when they are supported. It would be tragic if she kept the family back.

Address questions to Dr. T. Berry Brazelton, care of the New York Times Syndication Sales Corp., 122 E. 42nd St., New York, N.Y. 10168. Questions of general interest will be answered in this column; unpublished letters cannot be answered individually.

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