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Posts tagged ‘family changes’

Family Systems Change

SOURCE:  Prepare/Enrich

I’ve always been interested in how my family operated.

I can remember specific times in my life where I could see how I thought my family system was about to change. As a 14 year-old, I wrote a paper about my perspective on my sister’s upcoming wedding. I clearly remember stating my point of view that I was not losing a sister, but gaining a brother. Eight years later, while in college, I lost my grandmother unexpectedly, and I watched my entire family figure out how to handle the new void in the system. And now, I write this newsletter as I await the birth of a new niece or nephew. I know this new baby will again change our family system.

The thing is, change isn’t bad. It’s inevitable though.

Family systems theory, the basis of many counseling programs, sees the family as an emotional unit. When one part of the system changes, the system needs to re-calibrate. Changes in the system also happen when the functioning of a family member changes. The connectedness and reactivity within the family unit make the functioning of family members interdependent. The same happens when a family member is added or removed from the system. Sometimes this transition happens over time such as adding family members through marriage, adoption, or birth. There are other times where it is not planned, like a death in the family.

While change is hard, it can also be beautiful.

Adding family members allows the opportunity to create new bonds and relationships that last a lifetime. But, it’s important to acknowledge that the transition can be bumpy. Some family members won’t be welcoming, some won’t like the change, and others may wish it was like the “old days.”

Don’t feel like you need to combat these feelings.

We have some tips for how to manage when your family system changes:

  • Hear them out.  Listen, listen, and listen some more to your family members who are having a hard time adapting to the “new” dynamics. Their feelings are valid and its crucial to not outcast them in the transition process.
  • Give it time.  Don’t expect your family or yourself to be completely comfortable right away. It’s natural for some time to pass before a new “normal” sets in.
  • Encourage openness.  Embrace change yourself and model for others how to be open to changes that happen in the family system.
  • Establish new bonds.  Identify new family traditions or “special” moments with that new family member. This can be as simple as an inside joke with your new brother-in-law or a special tradition you create each time you have the birth of a new baby.

 




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Grand-parenting: The 10 Things You Don’t Say to Parents But Should

  • Here are ten things to say to your adult children that will support them as they grow into the role of parent, just as you adjust to being the grandparent

  • Take a positive spin

    The shift from being the parent to becoming a grandparent takes a major adjustment most of us never anticipate. It’s so easy to offer advice based on our years of experience raising children. It’s so easy to see what our adult children don’t. But we can get so focused on giving advice and telling them what they’re doing wrong, that we forget to tell them what they’re doing right. There’s nothing like positive reinforcement.

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    I respect how you’re raising your kids.

    You may not do things the way I did, but it’s a different world today, especially given the state of the economy and all the pressures on young families. (Now could you please stop making fun of me for not being able to buckle the kids into their car seats or collapse the stroller!)
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    Please, let me do the dishes!

    Or the laundry! Or change the baby’s diaper, then make dinner! I’m here to help!
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    Don’t worry; you’re wonderful parents.

    We all make mistakes sometimes—as I know only too well. So what if you let your daughter eat cupcakes for dinner every now and then? There were times when I let you run barefoot in the freezing cold and eat ice cream for breakfast—and you should have heard my mother! (And, true story, once I put fresh kibble in my son’s bowl in an attempt to cure his habit of eating out of the dog’s dish. It worked.)
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    Your children are wonderful.

    All kids go through difficult stages—you did, and look how fantastic you turned out!
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    I’m here if you need me.

    I realize that you’re up on all the latest information about childhood safety, diet, education, and health, which is different than back in my day. I trust that if you want my advice or opinion, you’ll ask for it.
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    All parents feel insecure sometimes …

    … especially with their first child. Parenting is an art that can only be learned on the job, no matter how many books you read or experts you consult. You know your child better than anyone. Just know that I’m here for you and if you ever want the benefit of my experience, say the word.
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    I promise to follow your rules …

    … as much as humanly possible. That means, I’ll feed the kids according to your instructions, limit the treats, make sure they do their homework, then get them to bed on time. And I absolutely swear I won’t start feeding the baby solids without your permission.
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    I support your decisions.

    You’re an intelligent, responsible adult with a good head on your shoulders, and I know that you think everything through carefully. If you want my opinion, I know you’ll ask for it. (You cannot repeat this often enough.)
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    It’s a privilege …

    … and an honor to be allowed to spend time with your children, because I know how much you love them and want to protect them. Thank you for putting your faith and trust in me.
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    I know I’m no longer the boss.

    It is strange, especially at first, to be the grandparent and not the parent. The truth is, becoming a grandparent takes almost as much on-the-job training as becoming a parent. Please forgive my mistakes and know that I’m doing my best to support you and love your children.————————————————————————————————————————————SOURCE:  Grandparents.com

    Barbara Graham, a Grandparents.com columnist, is the editor of the anthology, Eye of My Heart: 27 Writers Reveal the Hidden Pleasures and Perils of Being a Grandmother.

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