The reality of being a military child is that you move a lot.
Sure, it’s a character-building experience, you get to see the world, hear new languages, try new foods, learn about different cultures and bond with your family in unique ways. But you also learn how to say goodbye to friends, how to meet new ones and how to power through awkward new situations.
The good news is that you’re living in a time of amazing connectivity where time zones are the only barrier to instant communication. Not only can you easily reach back to friends from your last few home towns, it’s super easy to connect them with your current set of friends and invite them into your new home town.
Caring for your “old” friends
One of the most important things to remember is that time IS on your side. Remember, the friends you’re leaving behind are going to miss you as much as you miss them. So reach out as often as you can and encourage them to do the same.
Ideas & Tips:
Before your move, set up specific calendar dates for Facetime, Zoom or What’s App chats. Set reminders and stick to the plan.
Be aware of time zone differences and find a sensible time. No one in your family wants to be woken up by your chats at 3 a.m.
Your communications don’t need to be lengthy. A simple “I’m thinking about you because …” text can still keep you close.
Talk about the future. Our lives go on, with or without each other, and key events like milestone birthdays, school events, graduation, family travel, and sports victories are even better shared with friends. No matter how far away you are, you can still celebrate together.
Growing your “new” friendships
It’s OK if it takes time to find “your people” who make you feel comfortable when you’re hanging out. Develop those friendships by being open to new ideas and new quirks. It took time for you to become you, and your new friends need time to discover how awesome you are too.
Ideas & Tips:
- A smile goes a long way, but you already know that. Your positive, friendly attitude as “the new kid” will win friends and invite others to get to know you.
- Get out of the house and into the new world. No matter how uncomfortable it makes you feel, go to social functions, even if it’s just for an hour. You can take it. And you might meet someone who’s as new as you.
- When you meet someone you’d like to get to know better, start a conversation by asking them about themselves or about their views on a situation you’re both in.
For example, if you’re in the same class, ask if they know much about the teacher. Then listen to their answer and continue the conversation. If they’re not interested in talking, don’t take it personally. Try someone else.
- Join a club, a band, a sports team, or volunteer for an organization where people share your interests. Again, if you’re uncomfortable at first, it’s normal. Keep trying.
Be a friendship bridge
One of the best thing about friends is sharing them with other friends. By introducing your friends to each other you enrich everyone’s life. And thanks to technology, it’s easier than ever to do.
Ideas & Tips:
- You can still have a party where everyone hangs out together. Just set up a Zoom or Facetime party.
Choose a time that works for everyone’s time zone. Pick a theme you’ll all enjoy, like a dance party, pizza party, or a crazy hat party. Be the host and keep the party light, fun and interactive. Be sure everyone introduces themselves and talks – just like at a face-to-face party.
Young friends enjoying an AFE Lecrae show in Japan.
When you go to an event with “new” friends, like to an AFE show, Facetime with your “old” friends if the time allows. Not the right time for them? Videotape messages and send them later.
- Schedule time to watch online AFE shows together, along with a live chat/text so you can all share your comments. (And feel free to share those comments on AFE social media too.)
Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver and the other gold.
As you go through life, you’ll meet many, many people. Only a few will become friends and fewer still will remain friends. Put the odds in your favor by making friends, deepening the friendship and keeping it fresh.
Want more ideas and tips? AFE has great resources and links on our Month of the Military Child page.