How To Embrace Change As A Family

When raising our kids, how can we provide them with adequate stability without encouraging a fear of change?
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Original Artwork by Rosie Bowker

Original Artwork by Rosie Bowker

It started with a simple conversation between my husband and me.

A new community nearby. Maybe a little more room. A smart investment. Perhaps the view we had been coveting so long.

A seemingly simple conversation.

And then my daughter jumped in.

Her voice was fraught with stress, loud and clear. “You cannot make us move again,” she said, a whimper caught in her throat. “I won’t move again. I love this house. I love my school. I love my street.”

She very firmly, in her ten-year-old way, let us know that the idea of moving – even just down the road – was simply too much for her to bear. Simply too much.

Let’s be clear. My daughter has moved exactly three times in her life. One when she was four weeks old, so that doesn’t count. One when she was three years old, so that barely counts. And one when she was eight. That one counted. But it was a five-mile move and while it did involve a new school and new neighborhood, it did not involve a whole lot of anything else new. She kept most of her friends, her library, her grocery store…even her favorite frozen yogurt spot. Her routine is identical, her schedules still on track.

The panic in her voice over a simple, casual conversation surprised me. But it shouldn’t have. We work so hard to give our kids stability from day one so they have a sense of security, comfort and safety. We adhere to schedules and rules. We find solace in routines and rituals. We pride ourselves on traditions and the ease of the same old. But is it all to a fault?

In the process, are we raising our kids to be afraid of change?

I know that kids thrive on the regular. I know that studies show the benefits of routines and schedules and predictability in their lives. And I am not suggesting we abandon all of that. At least not altogether. But perhaps, along the way, we can pepper in a little surprise here and there. Show them that sometimes schedules are meant to be broken and change can be their friend. Ease them into looking at the world and their day-to-day lives with an eye for what’s next and not just what’s normal.

I am a creature of change. Change has propelled me to so many amazing things in life. New careers, new cities, new people…yes, even new homes. Change keeps me motivated and engaged and inspired. It scares me and pushes me and lets me dream big dreams. Change has taught me that you can’t always count on stability. On routines. On traditions. And that it’s okay, because something even better might be lying around that corner of uncertainty. Somewhere along the way, I learned to not only embrace change, but to crave it. And it has never let me down.

So I invite you to peek around that corner with me and more importantly, to bring your kids along with you. Maybe you are far beyond me and are one of those families who has dropped everything and is traveling the world (and if you are, kudos!). But if not, perhaps it’s as simple as trying a new soccer league or Girl Scout troop or bedtime routine. A hair cut that feels a little crazy or repositioning the bedroom furniture to offer a new perspective or checking out a new part of town…once per week. Maybe it’s just talking about change and taking away the stigma that most kids associate with it so they can find a little fun in the unknown and more comfort in those seemingly simple chats they are no doubt listening to when you think they are not.

Whatever it means for you and your family, it’s a conversation worth starting. One that can inspire so many things for your kids, now and down the road. One that shows them that life can bend and twist and get off course, sometimes…and if they can go along with it, it can turn out pretty great.  

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