Some parents are fearful of changing their child’s routine or the style of living to which they are accustomed.
But these can be opportunities for growth, maturity, and virtue. And, let’s be honest, sometimes the parent doesn’t want change because THEY do not want to leave their own comfort zone.
My parents were different.
Dad was a real estate developer and general contractor, and his projects were all over Northern California. Mom stayed at home and cared for their nine children; I was the oldest.
In the early sixties, we all had to leave the comfortable and beautiful neighborhood in which we grew up, our schools, our teachers, and our friends. We went twenty miles away to a rural area and had to start all over with new schools and making friends. It was, at some levels, traumatic for everyone.
But my parents knew that trauma is part of life and, when it can’t be avoided, can be a doorway to something better (Rom 8:28). So Mom did three things to bring out the good in all her little kiddos:
She shared the PRINCIPLE
Mom explained to us older kids that Dad’s business partner had violated their contract and left Dad holding the bag. Rather than declare bankruptcy, our father moved his family twenty miles away to a more affordable location where he could honorably work off the debt. In that, she invited us to respect and love our father more deeply. She also taught us to expect changes and look for the blessings in them.
She shared the PROMISE
Mom assured us that we would be safe, find new friends, and could look forward to some new adventures. She drove us out to the new location, showed us the house, let us peek at our new rooms and backyard, found a nearby hamburger joint where we all had an ice cream cone. Then we found the local Catholic Church and went, as my mother used to tell us, “to make a visit” to Jesus. Any little anxieties that we held were beginning to fade.
She shared the PLAN
Mom told us when and how the changes would occur. She let us invite our friends over to share our news and say our goodbyes. She promised she would make sure we could still stay in touch. “You can call your friends anytime. Just not before 9:00 am or after 8 pm.” What lovely courtesies we had back then!
Most importantly she invited us to come to her with our questions. “Your father and I love you very much. If you have any troubles in this move, we are here for you and we will plan to take care of everything.”
Ten years later it happened again . . . and this time we had to move 500 miles away! Dad took a job developing country clubs in the Southern California desert where there really were giant sand dunes, cactus, and real-live roadrunners! We all went into shock after leaving the green, wooded areas of Northern California.
But, because Mom again prepared us, we had the basic emotional skills to trust our parents, make the move, work through the loss of friends, and manage worries about the future. We explored the desert, found new friends, and realized with great joy we could swim all year long in the warm, sunny climate!
Some fifty years later, now, my siblings and I recollect how we each fell in love with the warm mornings, the cooing sounds of mourning doves, and the pink and purple hues of the sun rising and setting against nearby rocky mountains.
In that desert, we not only found a new life but beauty. And each of us was unafraid to eventually pack up, move away from home, and start our own personal adventures. With the goodbyes come new beginnings and even in life’s “deserts,” we can find beauty.
Are you a parent who must uproot your children due to devastating financial issues, death, divorce, or other misfortune? Take care not to create an angry sense of entitlement or self-pity.
( 1 ) Don’t stay too long in your anger and fear. God tells us to give thanks in everything (1 Thess 5:16-18) and that will open your eye to the gifts that await you and your children.
( 2 ) Don’t deprive your children of crucial life skills or of growing in virtues (faith, hope, love, obedience, and more). Your children need your help in making them resilient.
Trust in the Lord with all YOUR heart, and he will direct your path (Prov 3:5-6)