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New Town, New Friends

by Ronald A. Rowe | July 3rd, 2013 | Elementary, Social

moving truckMoving to a new city is a challenge for any family. Elementary age children, as resilient as they are, tend to adapt relatively well. Better, in fact, than the rest of the family. Certainly better than their teenaged counterparts. That isn’t to say that the move will be all rainbows and unicorns for the little ones. Elementary kids tend to handle relocation well but there are still considerable obstacles to be overcome. Not the least of these is the challenge of breaking into the established cliques (yes, cliques are already formed in the elementary years) and developing new friendships.

Some parents try too hard to help their children integrate into their new surroundings. They may attempt to forge friendships with neighbors or co-workers for the sole purpose of intermingling the children. These attempts at forced friendship seldom work. It is hard to maintain a forced friendship with another adult — much less to foist a parallel bond between your respective spouses — in the long term if your only point of commonality is a mutual desire to find a playmate for your children. It’s even worse if you are the only one of the two particularly interested and the other parent is just trying to be polite.

When your child is feeling alone and friendless, the desire to get involved and fix the problem is entirely understandable. But it isn’t the right fix in the long run. It is better to get your family involved in a community of some sort — a neighborhood, civic organization, church — where you will be surrounded by other families with a built-in commonality. Put your kids in the vicinity of other kids with the potential for recurring interaction and step out of the way. They will develop bonds of their own quickly if just given the chance.

As a bonus, you will be in a company of like-minded individuals with whom you will have the potential to connect. I know this goes against the 21st century American predilection for instant gratification but you and your child will benefit from taking a slower and more targeted approach to making new friends in your new environment. Now if you could just get your new friends to help you unpack-…

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