DEAR AMY: My mother is planning to move to a state far from the one in which we have lived since I was a preteen. She is moving with my brother "Barney." He is 12, and I am 21. I want to go with them so my brother and I don't grow apart as my other brother and I did. (I have another half-brother who is my age. My father also has a son and daughter with another woman who are both younger than 10, whom I have only met once). I've lived with Barney since he was born, minus a few times I've lived in different areas of the state, so we've grown up together and are close. It breaks my heart knowing he is going to be so far away. I know I can't go with them because I have an apartment and am finally starting my college education. Do you have any creative ideas that we can use to stay in touch and not grow apart? I still want to be his "big sis," not the distant sister who lives in another state. He has other big sisters from his dad's previous marriage who are at least a decade older than I, but he doesn't really know them.
DEAR SIS: Your thoughtful concern about your brother's welfare touches me. I wish there were an alternative to your mother's choice to move your brother to a new place. He is at a tender age, and this sort of transition can be tough on an adolescent boy.
You will have to offer him ongoing assurances that your relationship will always be a refuge for him. Maintain a positive attitude about this change, but listen and commiserate when he feels alone.
Maintain a presence with him on Facebook, where you can post photos back and forth and comment on each other's doings. See if he is willing to Skype with you regularly. Ask him to describe his new room, his school and friends. Send him things through the mail; there is nothing like a care package to keep a connection strong and to remind your brother that he is loved and appreciated.