Moving with kids is never easy. But how does it impact kids long-term? If you move a child a lot, does it make it easier for them to make friends, or harder? Those are the questions that Robin Farr of Farewell Stranger‘s post today raises.
A year and a half ago I stood in the entryway of the home of one of my dearest friends and cried as we hugged goodbye. My son, who was then 3 ½, said a cheerful, “Bye!” to his friend and then bounded down the steps.
Lucky little bugger, I thought. He has no idea how long he’s saying goodbye for.
Later that month we moved to another city. Sure enough, the implications of the move did come clear to my son as we moved into our new house and explored our new community and when he was no longer seeing his friends a couple of times a week. And then he got sad about it. And that broke my heart.
There was no particular reason for our move – not a specific new job, and not necessarily to be closer to family. We ended up closer to some but farther away from my parents, until they followed along a year later. We just needed a change and it felt like the time for that change had come.
It’s tough to leave friends behind when you’re 36, but even harder, I’d guess, when you’re 3. The kids we left behind have been my son’s friends since he was born. He saw at least some of them at least once a week for the first three and a half years of his life. He never had to make friends with them; they were just his friends.
We did some of the usual things when we got here – found him a preschool (though he didn’t start until we’d been here about four months due to a lack of openings), put him in some activities, got in touch with old friends who have kids close in age. It helped a little bit, but one day Connor turned to me and said, “I miss my friends.” I could practically hear the cracks running through my mama heart.
In the time we’ve been here, he’s had a bit of trouble going into new places where he doesn’t know anyone. He adjusted to school fairly well overall, but there were some rough days. He has a tendency to roar at kids he doesn’t know when he’s feeling vulnerable (and, unsurprisingly, most kids aren’t keen to make friends with a velociraptor). Even now, 18 months later, he has a meltdown every single Tuesday morning when I drop him off at his variety program at the Y.
I probably felt the same way he did at one point. I was actually born here, but we moved away just before I turned five. My mom tells me I was shy and had trouble making friends, which doesn’t surprise me but I don’t remember it. I grew up in the same place and went to the same school all the way through high school graduation.
My husband, on the other hand, moved around a lot. He lived in four different cities between the time he was born and his own high school graduation. Then when he graduated from university he moved yet again to where I lived. He has his shy moments, but I’ve never known him to have trouble making friends.
Is there a correlation between the ability to make friends and moving a lot vs. staying put as a kid? I don’t know. Maybe. Or maybe it’s just personality. Maybe it’s normal for almost-five-year-old boys to have trouble making friends. Either way, Connor has some friends now and we’re doing what we can to help him transition into a new school for kindergarten in the fall. I have no doubt he will meet some fellow velociraptors there.
Robin Farr is a writer, wife, communications professional, speaker and mom. She experienced undiagnosed postpartum depression after her son was born in 2008 and started her blog, Farewell, Stranger, as a way of writing herself out of it. In doing so she discovered strength in brutal honesty and the power of community.
Moving With Kids: Watch The Live Discussion
Interested in watching moms talk through the subject of moving with kids? Robin, myself and several other moms discuss our experiences with moving, both as children and as parents. Watch below!
Debbie Anderson | http://www.sandiegomomma.com
Robin Farr | http://www.farewellstranger.com
Janice Stenglein | http://www.celebrating-family.com
Emmy Barton | http://www.emmymom2.com
Michelle Villemaire | http://www.homemademimi.com
Angela Amman | http://www.angelaamman.com
Holly Homer | http://kidsactivitiesblog.com