Summertime for tweens is a time of freedom, to re-group and take some time off from school. Close friends are always available with just a phone call away or an invite to spend the night, unless that close friend moves away. Summer has lots of fun but also brings families to relocate due to job transfers and a host of other reasons.
But our tween’s do not take their relationships casually. They take them deeply! Buddies and BFF’s are a large part of their development. Most people do not like the adjustments that come with moving, but tweens are devastated emotionally when it involves them.
No matter the personality of your child; shy or gregarious, they all have the same emotions. Having a BFF or a close buddy or two to share their ups and downs and great dreams is powerful security. Many times, family issues bring the unknown or insecurity for tweens, as they do us- so having close friendships with the same interests naturally brings security and safety emotionally. God gives them friends to be their anchor when rough times come at school, with school work, with siblings, loss of a pet, loss of a family member and a just a safe place of coping.
Helping our tweens through the storms of life such as friends moving or our own tween moving, can be a great way once again for us as parents and grandparents to show them they can lean into us and God.
One of the hardest things we as parents will do is helping our tween say good-bye.
Just acknowledging their own emotions one of the best ways to help our tween – so they don’t feel alone and left behind. Being sure we respect their privacy during this time is essential, however at the same time letting them know you understand their sadness. How? We can affirm their feelings by telling them “it is so normal to feel that sad and mad or alone.” We can also sit and listen to their words and then repeat those words with, “I can understand you feel…..and then repeat their words so they can hear for themselves how they came across as well as knowing we do as parents understand them.
In time they will come and chat with us, maybe not in our time frame, but in theirs, once they observe we are sincere and ready to listen to them and not give advice. If they don’t come and share their feelings, we might or can express to them, “It must be tough or you must be sad since you’re ….moved away?” Again, validating their feelings is what is important in this experience of losing a close friend in the pre-teen years.
We can bring ideas for our tween to consider doing before the friend leaves:
1- Exchange email addresses/phone numbers/ and house addresses/birth dates.
2- Take some photos and make some memory books. They can be as simple as using 4×6 cards with photos printed out and pasted on with perhaps one another writing under their photos. Exchange the books during a sleep over or a fun party with other friends.
3- Perhaps agree to meet once a year or every other year if it is financially do-able!
4- Many kids like to write – they can write a letter or a poem or make a gift to give their BFF or buddy.
The list can grow as we add more ideas to present to our ever-changing-maturing tween as he/she travels the journey into teen-hood.