November 4th is ALWAYS a BIG DAY in our house but today is extra special as it’s my son’s 18t h birthday and the day when he becomes a man.
It was also the day that Bill Clinton won the election 18 years ago as we kept the newspaper on that day as a momento for Will.
This had got me thinking about change.
Handling change is one of life’s greatest challenges and is a major part of being a parent.
Change is inevitable and although it’s perfectly natural to resist the changes in your life and feel overwhelmed and anxious about them, you can also learn and choose to adapt to them and benefit from them. It’s about learning to embrace a new perspective to your circumstances.
When change happens in your life, from your daughter growing into a beautiful and independent teenager, your son going off to University, your youngest starting secondary school or your partner wanting a divorce, you have a choice.
You can either co-operate and go with the natural flow and rhythm of life and learn to bend, not break through these rapids in your life, or you can become frozen with fear and resentment, become bitter and detached or slowly become isolated from the joys of new opportunities.
New phases of your life and new experiences offer you a chance to grow, learn and explore yourself.
But it’s not always so straightforward and easy and it takes time to accept and adjust to change.
I think it helps to know that there are two types of change – cyclical change and structural change -neither of which you can control.
Cyclical changes are like the changing of the seasons; going back to school in September, moving up a year and watching your child grow, mature and become more independent with every new year – you know…the moving from shoelaces to spreadsheet skills of growth.
These changes happen in natural cycles and are normal parts of watching your child grow up.
Then there are the structural changes of getting divorced, getting re-married or losing a loved one. Structural changes are the kind where there is no going back to the way things were before.
These are the changes that can sweep you away and take you crashing over the waterfall if you try to resist them and ignore them.
I’d encourage you to learn to ask yourself more empowering questions that help move you forward like:
“What do I need to do to feel more in control of this situation and to get myself back in to the driving seat of my life again?”
This is a very useful and positive way to help you focus on getting back the feelings of control and direction in your life.
Of course change can be a time of grieving, disappointment and huge loss and because it is a process -it is not linear and you don’t heal in the same way as mending from a broken arm, but after a time it is healthy to start to look towards the future and to approach the changes in your life with growing anticipation and even excitement and certainly with acceptance.
To begin to embrace change more easily begin to ask yourself “better” questions which help you move steadily forward not looking back in anger and regret.
If you can learn to work alongside change and flow with it like gently floating down a river you can see it as an opportunity to grow which will help you handle change positively and with clarity, direction and confidence.
I am very proud of my son. He has worked hard at school and achieved 3 “A” levels and 11 GCSE’s. He writes a regular cricketing blog and podcast and volunteered his time for 2 years to help the children from Clifton Hill School develop their sporting activities every Friday – hail, rain or snow.
He’s great company, great fun, kind, thoughtful and is a passionate Chelsea fan and cricketing “stato” and he’s off to South Africa in his gap year in January to explore the world.
He’s messy, lazy about tidying up the kitchen after he’s made lunch, leaves his drinking glasses all over the place and his clothes on the floor but as we enter a new phase of our family life I am really proud of who he is as a young man.
We are off to celebrate with fish and chips tonight (his favourite and his choice) and we are looking forward to his party next Saturday !
Here’s a poem I give to my son Will.
Follow Your Destiny
“There comes a time in your life when you realise that if you stand still, you will remain at this point forever. You realise that if you fall and stay down, life will pass you by.
Life circumstances are not always what you might wish them to be. The pattern of life does not necessarily go as you plan.
Beyond any understanding, you may at times be led in different directions that you never imagined, dreamed, or designed. Yet if you had never put any effort into choosing a path, or tired to carry out your dream, then perhaps you would have no direction at all.
Rather than wondering about or questioning the direction your life has taken, accept the fact that there is a path before you now. Shake off the “whys” and “what ifs,” and rid yourself of confusion.
Whatever was – is in the past. Whatever is – is what’s important. The past is a brief reflection. The future is yet to be realised. Today is here.
Walk your path one step at a time – with courage, faith, and determination. Keep your head up and cast your dreams to the stars. Soon your steps will become firm and your footing will be solid again. A path that you never imagined will become the most comfortable direction you could have ever hoped to follow.
Keep your belief in yourself and walk into your new journey. You will find it magnificent, spectacular, and beyond your wildest imaginings.
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About the author
Sue Atkins is a Parenting Expert who offers practical guidance for bringing up happy, confident, well behaved children. She is also the author of “Raising Happy Children for Dummies” one in the famous black and yellow series published worldwide and the highly acclaimed Parenting Made Easy CDs. She regularly appears on BBC Breakfast and The Jeremy Vine Show on BBC Radio 2 and her parenting articles are published all over the world.
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Sue Atkins the Parenting Expert
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