Millennium Mom

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Handling transitions as a family

As many of you know we have been dealing with some major transitions in the Zucker household. Our family has been touched by the passing of loved ones over the past few months. On top of this we have changed caregivers in our house, which has been a very big change for the children after having Amber for over two and a half years.

We have all been struggling through these so I decided to do my montly Fox 19 segment on handling transitions. I researched on the internet and found some helpful tips. Here are my talking points for my segment on Wednesday, I hope you find them helpful, I know I did.


Whether it's having toast and coffee every morning, soccer games on Saturdays or putting in ten-hour workdays, everyone gets used to routines and personal rituals. But when change -good or bad -occurs, the stable situation you relied on becomes new and unknown. This uncertainty can leave you stressed and uneasy.

When you're in the middle of a large transition -such as a move, new caregiver, a death, divorce, or a new baby -it's easy to forget that the winds of change may also affect those around you. Children, partners and even your extended family can have trouble adjusting to the new situation. Though these changes can be challenging, they can also strengthen family ties if they're handled well. Below are some suggestions to help your family settle in when times are changing.

· Keep the lines of communication open. Tell your kids that they can talk to you about anything, anytime. Listen and empathize with their concerns. Explain changes in detail and assure your children that not everything will change (e.g. different school but same friends). By knowing what lies ahead, your kids will be better able to cope with the transition.

· Give yourself time to grieve. It takes time to adjust to a change and you may mourn the loss of someone or something familiar in your life. Grieving is a natural way of coping when a big change occurs. Importantly let your children know it is okay to be sad and grieve as well. Explain that they may feel sad more than usual and that is okay.

· Stay flexible. Be prepared to ride the wave, or at least test the waters of change. Try to look at change in a positive light and avoid the "my way or the highway" mentality. Change brings stress and the best way to deal with stress is to be as flexible as possible and just go with it

· Build or maintain a healthy lifestyle. When change is causing you stress, you may try to comfort yourself with fatty foods, alcohol or tobacco. While these may seem to relieve stress, over time they’ll make things worse. Eat well and get active: regular exercise helps release tension and gives you more energy. Kids may not feel like eating when they are going through change so it is important to keep family meals together, this is also a great time to talk to them about how they are feeling.

· Allow children time and space to be unhappy. Children can have trouble adapting to change so allow them to grieve for a while -it's a natural way of coping. Just be sure to keep talking to them through this period.

· Remind children of similar challenges they faced and handled successfully in past. Explain that, over time, every new experience will be easier to cope with.

· Maintain routines. Routines help kids feel in control of their environment because they know what to expect. When things change drastically, daily habits or rituals are comforting.

TWO MAJOR FAMILY TRANSITIONS that occur very often to think about:

BIRTH OF A CHILD OR BLENDING OF FAMILIES -Reassure each child they have an important place within the family, both before and after the new sibling or stepparent arrive on the scene. Keep your kids involved. Let them help with the new baby or, when step-siblings and parents move in, plan fun activities that the whole new family can participate in.

SEPARATION AND DIVORCE - Reassure children that they are not to blame. Many kids feel that they somehow caused the break-up so it's important to emphasize that this is not the case. Make sure that each parent has one-on-one time with each child. It tells children that they are still loved and gives them the chance to share feelings, thoughts and ideas. Both parents need to communicate regularly with their children and support them through the transition.


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