My kid’s friends keep moving away...

We are all sad that our friends keep moving away. But, our kid has been affected the most. She had a very hard time making friends in elementary school. Through concerted efforts from us and her teacher, she made one good friend with whom she really clicked. At the end of the year, that friend moved to OR. In first grade, her new best friend also moved to OR. This year, three families in our neighborhood whose kids play with my kid are all moving away to the east coast, Sacramento, and OR, leaving my kid friendless in the hood. We are friends with the parents and feel sad to be “left behind”. They all seem very excited about the move but I feel so sad that I have a hard time feeling happy for them.   The other day, my kid came home being excited about a potential new friend at school and wanting to set up a play date. I thought this is good since she has a hard time making new friends. Alas, this new friend potential will be moving at the end of the school year... So, I don’t want to encourage that friendship. I can’t take my kid’s little heart being broken every year. She asks us why people she loves keeps moving away. I am getting to the point where I now try to gauge the likelihood of people staying around before investing time to socialize and setting up play dates. One of the neighborhood families that is moving away wants to spend time together before they move but I don’t want to. It’s too painful for me. I don’t want my kid to deepen friendships with kids that are moving away.  Perhaps, it’s also because I wish I had the courage, mental bandwidth, career circumstances and resources to move to a place that offers a bigger house for less money, better schools, less crime, less commute, and less densely populated. I admit that I am envious of these people. Most of them have the ability to work from home and others are moving because they have jobs or families where they are moving. I have no family to move to and my job requires showing up to the office everyday. I am tied down to my company.  Raising kids in Oakland seems so unstable. I grew up in a big city but I remember kids moving away was not a frequent occurrence. 
 
How do people cope with an exodus of friends? Sometimes I feel abandoned.

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How sad! :(
People who live in the inner bay area are often not here for long.  Those in Oakland and San Francisco, are often just here for the money and then leave (especially if you're in a bad school district).  If you want to find people who plan on staying, find people who have family here.  I was raised in Berkeley/Oakland and still live in the the area (my sister, her son and my parents are also still here).  As for kids moving away, I'd encourage pen-pals and visit them if you can.  My husband's best friend moved to Sacramento for about 6 years (when they were about 8 years old), and then he moved back to the bay area for high school, so they could reconnect!  It's hard when friends leave, but it gives you a reason to travel and maybe even a place to stay while you are traveling. :)

I understand why you feel so sad; I would too.  However, I would encourage you not to block the time together before friends leave, but instead to lean into it and cement the friendship for the future. I know a lot of families who have remained close with friends who moved and it can be really lovely down the road.  The kids can visit, which makes for a special vacation, and a far-away friend can be a wonderful later on, especially in times of social stress at school.  You can foster the continued connection now, and later, the kids can do it on their own. That’s one positive thing about teens and social media. They hold onto distant friends better because it. And you’ll be modeling positivity in the face of something sad.  

I grew up in the Bay Area, and when I was 8, one of my best friends moved to WA. Our parents were amazing and let us fly alone to visit each other. I think generally we saw each other once or twice/year in person. Now I am in my 50's and she is still one of my best friends, still lives out of the area, and we still generally see each other in person once/year.

You might not have the resources or inclination to have your kid fly alone, but I think you can still nurture one or more of these long-distance relationships! Depending on how you feel about screens, etc, there are lots of options. Schedule a weekly skype chat? Buy a nice packet of stationery and some stamps?

And I think it would be great to do a project with your daughter to help her learn about the new places her friends are moving to/have moved to. Help her research online and find things she thinks her friends might like. This would help her develop the perspective that it is hard for her friends too, moving to a new place, and it would also help her feel connected if she can visualize where they are living.

And hey, Sacramento is within day-trip range! (I realize it is not the same as dropping by to play after school, but ...)

As someone who thinks of moving away frequently, this kind of hit home. One of the things that block me most are our friends and our children's friends. Still the economic and other quality of life factors just make a move very appealing and possibly necessary. I just wanted to offer my regrets on the situation. It's tricky.

I hear you. Many of my mom friends have moved away and it's hard. We also plan to move in a year or two. This is the reality of this time and place. The Bay Area is no longer a hospitable place for non-wealthy working families. 

I completely get that it's hard and that you and your kiddo feel abandoned by these changes, AND there are a few things I want to encourage you to do:

-Make friends anyway, and let your kid make friends anyway, with people who are planning to move. Friendship is friendship, and distance doesn't mean you no longer have a connection with someone. As someone who plans to leave in a year or two, I hope that friends who plan to stay will still be friends in the meantime.

-Find a therapist or support group to work through your feelings of abandonment. These feelings are real, and probably have roots in past experiences. Delving into this with support may help you feel more freedom and lightness.

-Research the possibilities for your family to move somewhere else. It sounds like this is something you really long for, and although it may feel overwhelming, it may be more realistic than you think.  There are a lot of wonderful accounts on BPN from families who have moved elsewhere and found a better lifestyle.

I wish you the best of luck, and please know that you're not alone in this feeling. This economy is brutal.

Signed,

Moving too but still want connection

Maybe have your child engaged with multiple circles of friends? This can happen through participation in youth communities such as scouting, martial arts, church, or being a regular at a local park.

I had a mother approach me in tears one time because we were open about the fact that we intended to move. Another family significantly expended less energy with us as soon as they knew of our plans. A third lady was trying very hard not to share her plans to move until the very last minute. It saddens me that friendships have become so fragile and conditional. Why can't children play in ad hoc posses on our neighborhood streets and parks with random kids who they may or may not know well? Where this has happened successfully, I see examples of parents unconditionally interested in other random adults. I think our confidence in our own ability to make new friendships habitually and to allow multiple relationships to survive and even thrive serendipitously is something that kids pick up on and mirror.

Kids are resilient when their adults are resilient. Families that reach out indiscriminately to enrich their social circles probably don't suffer as much when the inevitable attrition occurs.

As you say, this is probably a mix of your feelings and your child's feelings. It is actually good to have sad (but not devastating) experiences as a child - it builds resiliency. Friends can move away or change schools or even stop wanting to be friends - moving on is an important life skill. At my children's public school, my son's sixth grade class has about half the kids who started with him in kindergarten. He's had friends leave overnight due to immigration issues, and classmates transfer schools with no explanation. Definitely sad. On the other hand, his good friends now (as a 6th grader) have been his good friends since kindergarten in one case, and preschool in the other case, since they happened to go to the same elementary school. My younger child has had more ups and downs in her friendships, which I think isn't unusual for girls. She's had to make new friends each year in her classroom, which is incredibly hard for her to do, but again it's a life skill that I hope will get easier as she matures due to practice. The good news is that people tend to stop making those big moves once the kids are a little older, so I would imagine the pace of departures out of the area will slow down. Continue to encourage your daughter to make new friends in school and through extracurricular activities.

However, that brings us to your feelings. Do you want to seriously consider a move for your family? Maybe sit down with your partner (?) and have a discussion about it. If not, what other activities and opportunities you can do as an individual or a family to make new, meaningful friendships. Church, volunteering, public service (like serving on a commission), etc.

Many of the previous responders did a nice job answering your question. But one thing you might want to consider is moving to one of the smaller towns nearby with "good" public schools. We did that and it feels like most of the people are very locked into living here and sending their kids through the public schools. There also seem to be a lot of people who actually grew up in town, went to school here and now want to raise their kids here. It doesn't mean families don't leave but perhaps less so than in Oakland.