My kid’s best friend is moving away—how can we make this less awful?
April 18, 2021 8:13 AM   Subscribe

My ten-year-old daughter’s best friend will be moving in the next few months. She’ll be a few hours’ drive away. Neither my daughter nor her friend are happy about the move. I’d be grateful for any ideas about how to support my kid right now and how to help my kid be there for her friend—this is new territory for them both.

Extra info: The girls have become experts at keeping in touch with FaceTime as a result of the pandemic, and the friend’s mom (who is also my friend) and I plan to arrange visits when we can.
posted by TEA to Human Relations (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: My best friend moved across the country when I was 8, and we were both very unhappy about it.

One thing that really helped was keeping in regular contact. This was the 80s, so that meant we became pen pals.

I would get each kid a set of awesome stationery and some cool pens and stickers. Encourage them to write to each other, and send each other little packages with small gifts once in a while. Sending and receiving snail mail is magical!

Your daughter and her BFF are super fortunate to live in the era of FaceTime, and I love that you plan on arranging visits. Definitely make this a priority.

The most important thing you can do (and it seems like you are already doing this, which is so so great) is to be an ear for your daughter as she moves through this experience. Ask her how she feels and listen to her feelings. Give her a shoulder to cry on when she's upset. Your concern for her is evident in your ask, and I think the obvious love and consideration you have for her during this stressful time is going to be the most helpful thing for her.

Lastly, it's really wonderful that you're not treating this as NBD or some sort of "character building experience". This stuff is hard even for adults and I'm happy your daughter has your support.
posted by RobinofFrocksley at 8:44 AM on April 18, 2021 [7 favorites]

Best answer: Maybe help your kid research the friend’s new home region? Frame it like “how can we help friend get excited about her new home?” Your kid’s being a bespoke Trip Advisor would give material for pen pal letters plus build anticipation for what to do whenever you visit them.
posted by mahorn at 8:50 AM on April 18, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I agree that encouraging the kids to stay in touch via snail mail is a great idea. I would take it one step further and recommend buying a cheap notebook that they can write in and send back and forth to each other so it's more like a conversation than individual letters. Plus, all their communication ends up in one place. Encourage them to decorate it, add to it, paste things inside of it, etc, etc. The key to making it work will be buying for each kid a whole bunch of big envelops, addressing them and having postage already on it. Have it all ready to go so that the kids can easily send the notebook back and forth without waiting for mom or dad to find the time to go to the post office!
posted by pjsky at 12:55 PM on April 18, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Well based on current PO status I wouldn’t recommend putting a full notebook with the full contents of their correspondence in the mail. Letters are perfect and mount them into a scrapbook.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 1:16 PM on April 18, 2021 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Having moved a few times, I find that it is easier to leave than to be left. When you leave, there are exciting, difficult, new things to do and new people to meet. When you're left, there's just this hole in your life where the person used to be. Yes, help them stay in touch as much as you can, but at some point, friend is going to create a new friendship group in new place, and may stop contacting you daughter as often.

I'd suggest finding something new for your daughter to try, expose her to some new people, she may make some new friends that will help fill the hole. (I realise that this may be tricky in these covid times, I don't know how restricted where you live is). Obviously new friends won't be the same as best friend, but keeping busy is generally better than wallowing.
posted by kjs4 at 6:21 PM on April 18, 2021 [5 favorites]

Best answer: Plan a vacation where friend can go too. (Something not too expensive or involved, like camping or going to a water park located somewhere mid-distance.)
posted by RedEmma at 1:37 PM on April 19, 2021

Best answer: Perhaps your daughter and friend may want to take some sort of online class together after the friend moves away.

I think it would be helpful for the parents to plan some sort of visit* on a specific date after the friend moves away. This visit is something to look forward to and is more concrete to a child than "someday."

*In non-covid times, the ultimate option for a 10 year old is often a sleep over.

Perhaps the parents and kids could read a book about a friend moving away and have a "book club" type discussion about it. In addition, you may want to reassure your daughter that she did a great job staying in touch with her friend during the pandemic, so perhaps the distance between her and her friend matter less than she may think.
posted by oceano at 6:04 PM on April 19, 2021

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