Guest Blogger, Anica Oaks
Going through a major life change can be difficult. We are often focused on our own feelings. This makes it hard to support the other family members. There are ways, however, to create an emotionally-safe environment to keep the family close and the lines of communication open during major life changes.
Talk it Out
Whether the life change is a move, a death in the family or a job loss each person may react differently. Give each member the opportunity to express their feelings and how the change affects them. Often times, just talking about it helps, even if the outcome will not change. Taking the time to listen and offer support will let each member know that their feelings are valid.
Reduce the Generation Gap
It is common to become frustrated with those younger or older than us, but strong intergenerational relationships can be essential to a family’s closeness during a major life event. Rather than focusing on who is right, try to understand the unique differences that each faces. Find common ground between the older and younger generations. A senior care specialist with an aging master’s degree recommends that grandparents make an effort to bond with their grandchildren, especially if those grandchildren live far away. Families can encourage this bonding by getting together regularly and sharing experiences.
Have a Plan of Action
Life changes can be scary when it seems that there is not a clear plan of action. For instance, a death in the family can be unsettling for young children. Discuss with the family how a funeral works and what might be expected on that day. Keep the discussion age-appropriate and allow each member to ask questions to fully understand the situation. Afterwards, discuss how you move forward as a family and how the dynamic may change without this member.
Be Accepting and Flexible
When a major life change occurs, the family will look to the older members for guidance. Your attitude and willingness to be flexible, even in hard times, will encourage the others to do the same. You cannot control a sickness or a job loss, but you can control your reaction to it. Encourage the family to move forward in a positive way.
Life is unpredictable. Each member of the family will have their own fears and concerns when major life changes occur. Providing a safe environment to discuss their feelings will keep the lines of communication open and the family connected.