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By Cheryl Bac

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About this blog: I'm a wife, stay-at-home mom, home cook, marathon runner, and PhD. I recently moved to the Silicon Valley after completing my PhD in Social Psychology and becoming a mother one month apart. Before that, I ran seven marathons incl...  (More)

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Moving Away - becoming long-distance friends

Uploaded: Jul 21, 2015
One of our son's best friends is moving away. This isn't the first time a friend's moved, but it is the first time that it has clearly affected our son.

It's never easy to say good-bye to a friend. And, as a parent, I'm still figuring out how to help my kid cope.

Recently we've focused on looking for positives. A big one is that technology makes it easier than ever to stay in touch. We talk about all of the friends and family we have around the world and how his friendship could change into a long-distance one. I can show him photos that his friend's parents post on social media. And we can send emails, video chat, or just mail drawings and letters to his friend.

Recently I've also tried to keep our son busy with many outings and playdates - some with his friend who is moving away and some with his other friends who are sticking around. I hope these outings help remind him that he has many wonderful friends to lean on. Sometimes being surrounded by people who care about you can make a world of difference.

How do you help your kids cope when a good friend moves away?
What is it worth to you?


Posted by Erin, a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive,
on Jul 21, 2015 at 5:53 pm

Having friends move away is so hard. We've had many friends move over the years. This area seems to be much more transient than it once was.

My oldest had her best friend from preschool move away right before pre-K. She took it pretty hard and constantly talked about this friend and when we could visit. We tried to do lots of playdates with other kids to establish new friendships. Eventually she made a new best friend the next year in school, but she continued to talk about the previous friend who moved away for about three years after the move. It's only been in the past two years that she hasn't written stories about her and talked about her constantly.

I think some friends are meant to have that kind of impact on us. It's good for kids to be able to make such close connections and also for them to go through a little heartache and struggle while they make new connections.

Good luck with your son. It may just take him some time to find that new close friend.

Posted by Cheryl Bac, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Jul 21, 2015 at 10:18 pm

Cheryl Bac is a registered user.

Erin - Thanks for the encouragement. It's hard when they are so young, but you are right, moving seems to happen very frequently here. I'm sure this isn't the only time he will go through it.

Posted by Mother of 4 , a resident of Palo Verde School,
on Jul 22, 2015 at 8:44 am

Following on from what both have written.

This has happened to us a few times and obviously personalities are different and it is hard to tell how one child will cope versus another.

For us, we have noticed that the anticipation of the move has been much harder for the young child than the actual event. The news of the departure and being told that this is the last time they will play at the park, or the last time they will play at each others home have brought lots of tears. Even a goodbye party has not worked well as there are lots of tears and questions. After they have left, it seems that they have a mechanism for coping and getting over it very quickly. They move on quickly although I do my best to keep them very busy. It is very soon, in our experience, that they have forgotten their best friend and even sending a birthday card hasn't made much of an emotional jolt. On one occasion, we arranged a playdate with the friend when the family returned to visit grandparents who are still in the area. It was as if the children were complete strangers to each other and although it was anticipated with enthusiasm, it was clear that both children had moved on and just played politely together without the previous closeness.

My advice would be to keep the news of a friend leaving to as close as possible to the departure date. They hate the thought of their friend leaving and worry how they will survive after the separation, but the actual departure date goes by and the new normal sets in quite quickly. Yes take lots of pictures and use as much technology as they want to keep in touch, but he is likely to be very resilient and may surprise you in how well he deals with it.

Posted by Cheryl Bac, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Jul 22, 2015 at 2:20 pm

Cheryl Bac is a registered user.

Mother of 4- Thanks for commenting! We recently had a play date with a friend who moved away about a year ago. And I agree, it was strange to see our kids interacting together without their old enthusiasm. Yes, it's wonderful when kids are resilient and recover from these life events better than we anticipate.

Posted by Old but wise, a resident of Palo Verde,
on Jul 27, 2015 at 11:44 am

As a teacher for 45 years I can say that I agree that children do bounce back after a friend moves. Most chldren are here and now. I commend the mom who upped the visits with other friends BEFORE the close friend left. Children are in the process of checking each other out, figuring who is "good" for them etc, and having them move away is part of that exploration...a time to learn about grief and loss... good basics for the life experience. You are lucky that there is social media to soften the immediate separation. I have always found being up front with children works well, so I would put the "leaving date" on the calendar where he can check it when HE wants to. I wouldn't go out of my way to bring it up, but listen carefully for comments actions etc that need a " you seem quiet(angry,sad) today, what are you thinking about?.He may be emotional about something else, so always good not to assume its the moving friend. Examples of people in your life moving are good too..... You know my friend Jenny in Washington DC?, well she was my best friend and lived next door 'till she moved, we have known each other for 15 years!
Good luck with your little guy and do reassure him that you won't be moving...young kids sometimes panic that maybe their family will up and out!

Posted by Cheryl Bac, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Jul 27, 2015 at 2:39 pm

Cheryl Bac is a registered user.

Old but wise - Thank you for all of the wonderful tips! What great ideas. I'll definitely try the calendar one the next time a friend moves away.

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