I don’t have many thoughts on moving kids permanently in jr. high and high school since I’ve never done it or experienced it. I know it was rough for me to move for six months in high school but I appreciated it so very much in the long-run (obviously, since that was part of our drive to live in China). I was so grateful to be able to go back to a familiar place when we were done with our adventure. I know that meant a lot to my kids when we went to China too. A permanent move is a lot trickier, but we have some really good friends who have moved their kids twice across the country to different places (from here to D.C. and now to Texas) through Junior High and High School and they have fared so well! They have learned so much from the experience and have bonded as a family. I’m sure there have been struggles and it’s not all rainbows and butterflies, but I don’t think they would ever trade all that they have gained. I think it helps to have a lot of open communication and a LOT of love going on. Every family is just so different. Every child is just so different.
Whether or not you “should” worry about them making new friends, just believe me, you WILL. That’s just what mothers do. We want so much for our kids to be happy and have the best experiences possible. I think it takes a lot of prayer to figure out something like that for your own unique family needs. If that’s what life brings (a necessity to move) like it brought to my friends, I loved seeing their positive attitude and how they decided to bloom where they were planted. I know that is so much easier said than done…a lot of prayer and gut-wrenching heartbreak sometimes goes into big things like a move.
I think moving for a short while OR a long while sure forces kids to get out of their shells and comfort zones which promotes so much growth. And again on this one, every child is SO different! An exuberantly self-confident child will most likely make friends much more easily than an introverted extremely shy one. Some may need more help from parents setting up playdates, or coaching on how to invite others over, etc. Maybe they need to be reminded what Dave loves to remind our kids all the time:
“It just takes twenty seconds of courage.”
(from the movie “We bought a zoo”)
I remember one of my friends talking to her son a long time ago. He was feeling extremely left out at school and she told him: “I want you to remember how this feels. Remember how heavy it makes your heart. Remember how much you wish someone would talk to you. Because you will be on the other side some day, and I want you to be the boy that goes and makes the difference for kids who will need you.”
I have always remembered those wise words and have tried to echo them to my own children.
Grace is one of our naturally friendliest kids and it was difficult for even her when we moved last semester. She was so worried about missing her friends, but reached out of herself while she was there and ended up realizing it wasn’t so bad. She even wrote a paper on being the “New Girl” for one of her classes:
The amazing thing is that she made such great friends that one of them ended up MOVING HERE! Two miles away from us here in the desert to be exact! We could hardly believe our ears when they told us the news (her mom had become my good friend in China too). Her husband’s contract had expired and they were looking for a new adventure and I think they heard enough about how great the desert is from Grace (and a few other friends too) that they decided to move right on over. They like to joke that we “imported” them:)
(My parents happened to be leaving town right as they arrived.)
Claire thinks Rebeka is her best friend too 🙂
It has been so fun to have them around.
Even as probably the most shy freshman on the planet living in England that one semester I was able to make a few good friends, a few of whom I have run across randomly, but one in particular who actually comes to visit every now and again because she works for British Airways and has stopovers here occasionally. She just came last month.
So grateful for that great Sarah.
Ok, that was a total digression once again. But I think it’s awesome how resilient kids are and how much better they can be at making friends if we give them big opportunities.
The world is such a small place with social media. We use this thing called WeChat (everyone uses it to communicate in China) and so my kids are able to keep in touch with friends there from here. It has broadened their horizons so much and done a lot for their confidence and self-esteem and we are all so grateful.
Moving with kids can be a huge challenge. It’s rough at times. Emotions are roller coasters on all ends. But it can sure be a wonderfully positive thing too. Maybe the biggest factor in how positive a move becomes depends a whole bunch on the attitude of the parents. I know that’s a huge burden for parents to carry, but if parents are excited, confident and upbeat (even if sometimes inside they’re scared to death), kids will fare much better than those with parents who complain or grumble. Sometimes it’s scary how much we rub off on our kids!
Ok, I didn’t know I had quite so much to say about that, dear-blog-reader-who-wrote-in-these-questions! I wish you the best of luck with those big decisions (even though that email was a while ago!) If you did end up moving and doing the immersion program it would be fun to hear a report on how it’s going!