In our transitional society, children tend to slip in and out of friendships quite easily. With relocating being the “norm”, children are constantly falling in and out of social situations, such as school, clubs, church and other organizations.
Every once in a while, though, children will make a connection with a peer that seems to be something deeper than just your classmate-friendship. These close relationships are ones that tend to stand the test of distance and time and are most notable from about fifth grade and up. Long distance friendships require work, though, to keep them up. Here are some pointers to helping your older child keep those friendships that mean so much to him or her:
- Give them a call. With so many calling plans today offering free or flat-rate long distance, allow your child to make a call every now and then and touch base with an old friend. It doesn’t have to be for long – just a few minutes to say hello and find out what exciting things are going on with their friend.
- Remember birthdays. Send a card or even a small gift for a birthday or holiday. Make a homemade card with a handwritten note inside. Remembering special days is a great way to keep up with friends.
- Make a point to schedule a visit if you are ever back in the area (or your friend is visiting close by). Pick a neutral area, such as a park or a fast food restaurant so both parties are on “equal territory”. If possible, arrange a mini-vacation for the kids. When I was in junior high, my best friend and I were five hours apart. I would spend a week at her house in the summer, and then she would spend a week at mine. Those summers are probably my most favorite memories growing up.
- As the parent, be aware of the status of the friendship. If there is some friction, help your child address it. Perhaps it is time to let the relationship end and revisit it later. Be an open and unopinionated listener for your child when things just don’t seem “right”.