Seasons of Change

With the Fall weather approaching (much more slowly here in California than other places I’m sure), I’ve been reflecting on change. I have great neighbors moving away, I’m settling into a new office, and I’ve been forced to reassess certain parts of my life. The changes are real, and while some are great others have been really hard. I do my best to take them in stride, but I’m human too and I know I haven’t handled everything as gracefully as I could.

And I know I’m not alone, which got me thinking about the different ways we all handle changes in our lives. I think the biggest differentiating factor between what constitutes “good or bad” change is choice. When we are choosing to make a change in lifestyle, career, living situation—it’s a lot easier to feel positive about it. We can rationalize some of the sadness and discomfort because the end-game is aligned to what we want.

It’s so much harder when we are forced into change. Getting fired, being broken up with, getting a bad medical diagnosis—these are the changes we seek to avoid, and the ones that are always unwelcome. This is where we can struggle to find the positive spin, and for the most part that’s ok. I will always advocate to feel your feelings. Move through them as needed, but don’t get stuck in them.

One thing that has been helping me this year, as I look at all the upcoming change, and reflect on all the changes of the past is remembering that no matter how scary and big some of the shifts have been, I always survived them. Maybe at times we come out the other side a little worse for the wear. The hope is that we find meaning in the change—a lesson or a purpose for it happening. But even when we can’t, or haven’t made it to that place, we grow stronger. We learn that we can endure, and sometimes that is enough.

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Dear Jacqueline,

Dear Jacqueline,

As the holiday is fast approaching I have a question concerning my 12 year old son.  Long and short of it is he has been estranged from his father now for 1 1/2 years and the holidays are a hard time for him.  He doesn’t hear from him for months (mind you he lives 2 miles away) except on holidays he gets a text message saying ” Happy Holiday Love and miss you”.  My son will always respond the same but knows he then will not hear from him until the next holiday, which makes him sad and angry.  I have thought about taking his phone on the holiday, blocking his dad’s number, etc.  Any advice would be appreciated. 

Thanks,

Anonymous

Dear Anonymous,

            It sounds like this is not only hard on your son, but you as well. I imagine that as a mother you are left feeling pretty helpless in this situation, and wanting to protect your son from feeling hurt. I am also imagining that for your son the text message feels like a beacon of hope, which leaves him feeling even more disappointed when he realizes his dad is returning to old patterns.

            At his age (at any age in childhood actually), he is likely placing blame on himself for his relationship with his father. The best thing you can do is validate his feelings (“I know it hurts when he lets you down.” “I’m sorry he is not being the father you need.”) and assure him that while it might not feel like it, that it is not his fault, and the outcome of the relationship with his dad is not a reflection of him not being a good enough son. This is a big weight that he is likely carrying, and knowing that you understand him and are there for him will be a great support. If he is not already, I would also suggest counseling so he has an extra outlet for these emotions. And the fact that you are willing to reach out sets a good example for him that it is ok.

            Good luck with the holidays, and I hope everything goes well.

~Jacqueline