There is so much change in our family at the moment. It often feels like that doesn’t it? That this stage is harder than the last but I honestly can say this stage in our lives in proving the most challenging so far. When I look back at our children being placed with us fifteen years ago that felt like a huge change (and it was). Then we got used to that to some degree. Then they started school and going from early years to later years in primary and that felt huge.
Then of course the mammoth jump from primary to secondary – that was even more huge. All these stages have had their challenges of course and transitions are difficult for us all.
In my personal life outside of the children there have been major changes too. I’m sure you can all relate – whether you have experienced the same things or not, as you get older things naturally change and you cannot stop it. Children growing up and looking to leave home, parents becoming ill and passing away, possible marriage breakdowns or changes in career and home moves. All these things are on the most stressful things we face list but to have them all at once can be very overwhelming!!
I am just about to launch my new small guide on transition in education, which I am excited about. I wrote it a few years ago actually but life ran away with us and only just now getting it out to you. That’s ok though because change is always difficult. For our most vulnerable in society, it is even more difficult of course. My ‘children’, young adults actually, are going through this now. They are not fans of adulting! It is scary and stressful and a little bit exciting too. Trying to navigate very choppy waters of finding jobs, mental health issues, housing, universal credit, relationships, independence and finding support is proving very tricky indeed.
For me as the main person supporting them it is overwhelming and exhausting. I’ve just come across Sarah Naish’s book released last year (2022) which is really helping me and I think it’s amazing. To see a book dedicated to the adults caring for traumatised children is very refreshing and much needed. The A-Z of Survival Strategies for Therapeutic Parents (From Chaos to Cake) by Sarah Naish provides brilliant insight into the ongoing challenges we face and the toll it can take on us personally. I am looking forward to finding some help, sense of community and respite from these pages in the coming weeks and months.
So, what can we learn from change? What are the lessons and how can we make the best of change in our families?
- Appreciate the change in every phase. As mine have become more independent and rely on me less (still not as much as their peers but less than they used to) I can appreciate the times when I get to watch what I want on the TV, or go to bed when I want to. Sometimes it might feel like mining for the positives but they are definitely there. I am actually going away for a long weekend with a friend this week, which is brilliant and I’m fairly relaxed about leaving home to do that!
- Look for the lessons. I have worked hard I think to find ways to cope with each stage the best I can. For example, I know moving into teenage years can be hard for most but I was able to hold lightly the control of my children and try to influence them instead. This hasn’t always worked, of course, and they are doing things now I’d rather they weren’t, but relatively speaking they are the lesser of evils. I learnt quickly that part of being an adolescent was moving away from adults and being more aligned with peers. This has been trickier with vulnerable teenagers but we have to learn to let go when we can and hold lightly the influence we have. Another lesson I’ve learnt is that I need a life too. I have amazing friends who have stuck with me through the years, and new ones I’ve made in the last few years since my divorce. They are all a gift that I am very blessed to receive.
- This too shall pass. The good and the bad will change. When it feels unbearable, I know that it will get better – it may take a while and be very painful but it will. Also, when things are going well, that too shall pass! There’s always another obstacle around the corner. One of the reasons this time in life has been the most difficult for us is that they are all at the same stage at the same time. Previously their gaps in ages helped in some ways to stagger the changes but once they all got over 18 it feels like it has all come together. I am holding onto the life principle that this too shall pass. What comes next – who knows!
- There is always a way through. Sometimes we’d love for changes and challenges to just disappear – I pray for it all the time! However, they often don’t and we need to find ways through or around things. At the moment I am reaching out to everyone I know in the field of housing and vulnerable young people and I know there is an answer out there, I just haven’t found it yet. I will persevere. Sometimes of course the way through might be very painful and not what we want at all but I have to then go back to the other points above and try and work those into my thinking.
- We all experience change. We are all in the same boat. Well maybe not exactly the same boat – but all on the sea anyway. We all experience change as it’s a part of life. Staying connected to others has been my life line at times when my desire was to just hide under my duvet. What I am learning though might be helpful to others. When we hide away, we not only suffer ourselves by feeling alone and isolated, but we deprive others of the help and support they need from us.
So whatever change you might be facing right now I’d encourage you today to reach out to others – there will be people in your world who can help and who you can help. Transition is tough, inevitable, and constant. But as we grow through each transition, we can expand our capacity for growth. I have certainly seen that in my own life. Even though right now feels tougher than ever, I also can see growth and development in myself and in my children as they learn to stand on their own two feet and walk into the adult world.