If you look at the friends you have today, there are probably very few that you knew from back in your school days. We all change over time, and friendships will come and go based on those changes. This is something that you learn to deal with when you become an adult, but which can be somewhat devastating during the teenage years. This is especially true when a good friend is taken from you when they move out of state with their parents. Teenagers are already pretty emotional, and having their best friend move away can make them feel as though the world is about to come to an end. As a parent, there are some things you can do to help them through this difficult time.
If you know that friend is moving away before your child does, because you are friends with the family, let them know what is happening at the earliest possible time. With younger children (8 and under) the opposite is usually true, but as teenagers are better equipped to understand the reasons for the move, letting them know as soon as possible will give them time to get used to the idea. It is important that you watch out for changes in their mood during this period, as it may be a sign that they are not handling things well and may need extra support. Be aware of when you tell them. Perhaps a Friday after school when they have the entire weekend to process it. Be aware of how you tell them. Make sure that they don’t have people home that would make it uncomfortable for them to express their true feelings. Also making sure you are sensitive to their feelings and making sure not to tell them how they should or shouldn’t feel.
Ideas to break the blow a little:
One idea is to have them plan a going away party for their friend, which you can host at your home. This will allow them to create something special, whilst also giving them the opportunity to invite over a number of other friends. Sure, there will be some sadness involved as the party starts to wind down, but your child will see they also have other friends that they can turn to, and who will also miss the friend that is moving away. Those other friendships may become stronger because of the shared loss experience.
Another idea is to have your child put together a time capsule with their friend. Add in things that will remind them of this time in their life, things that are important to them, etc. They can bury it together and perhaps uncover it at a later time when they get back together.
Children today are luckier than you were as a kid when placed in this type of situation, as there are now countless ways to easily keep in touch. If you have a friend from childhood who moved away when you were younger, tell your child how you were able to stay in touch and maintain that friendship at a time when doing so was a whole lot more challenging than it is today. If you have not allowed your child to have a social media presence to this point, consider letting up a little and allowing them to have an account that could let them stay in touch with their friend who is moving. Restrictions can still be kept in place, and you can monitor what is being posted if need be.
Just remember that this is an emotional time for a child, and do all that you can to be there for them. If you feel that you are having difficulty doing so, perhaps take time to talk to a therapist in order to learn some helpful tips and techniques that can help you and your child through a difficult time.