Child Caring

How can she help her 8th grader with an imminent move?

Dear Barbara,

I will be moving from Richmond, VA to an undecided location in Arizona very, very soon. This same situation happened four years ago, but was switched, We moved from Arizona to Virginia in November of 2009, when my daughter was in the 4th grade, (she is now in 8th and will he attending HS this following school year). She had her heart set on moving mid-year for the purpose of being able to make friends more easily and having more friends over the summer, but that is not doable, due to a surgery and a trip I am going to go on.

So, I guess I'm asking how can I help her make friends? She will have to start high school knowing absolutely nobody, and she does not want to go to a camp because the kids may or may not be going to the same HS and they probably wont be the kind of kids she will be friends with. Help! Thanks for any advice!

From: Lexi, Richmond, VA

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Dear Lexi,

You're moving "very, very soon" so won't school still be in session? It's not the middle of the year, but still...

No matter. Whenever you are arriving, school in session or not, once you know the town you'll be living in, call the principal/head master of her new school and enlist his/her help. He/she is your best resource; principals are under-utilized in situations like this.This is hard for you and harder for your daughter (and it is, indeed, hard; I'm not minimizing) but it's not new to the principal. At some schools, there are student committees or leaders who help acclimate new students. Social media can facilitate that even before arrival. This can happen even if school is no longer in session. This doesn't promise a new BFF but it's a start. Over the summer, a principal might be able to suggest a few girls who have interests similar to your daughter who she could meet. She can suggest summer activities that are popular, including volunteering or athletics.

Keep in mind, though, that you can't help your daughter "make friends," not at this age. All you can do is show her possibilities. Volunteering. Summer classes. Clubs and activities. Athletics. Even if you talk to the principal and he helps you make a plan, she may still be miserable and angry. In fact, she may reject it. That's partly developmental and possibly hormonal. In other words, she's a teenager and can't help herself. Your job is to find a way to tolerate her anger without feeding her platitudes -- "It'll be fine, honey, you always make friends." That likely will make things worse: "You don't understand!"

By the way, review with her how things worked when you moved before. I know 4th grade is light years away from 8th grade, but some of the strategies might help, and it might help to remind her about her own resilience.