Talking About Change

Today we’re going to talk about an important topic: talking with your family about change.  It’s important to not just spring changes on either your partner or your children, but to talk about it.  Talking about changes also helps to encourage more frequent communication between all of you, as well as help you communicate more effectively and more honestly.

Who
Everyone.  That’s all there is to it.  For a point of clarification though, see the next point.

What
Well, that depends.  You don’t have to pour, for example, your entire marriage/relationship challenges and problems upon your children, but you do need to talk with them about it.  They have noticed what’s going on and are either making up stories or worrying frequently.  They need to know what’s going on, how it impacts them and what changes are definitely going to happen.  If you’ve got kids who blow things out of proportion, leave out possibilities that are unlikely to happen, or will happen in the future (1.5+ years away).  Encourage them to ask you questions and ask for clarification.  You’re trying to be open with them and treat them with respect, and want them to feel comfortable coming to you with their challenges, uncertainties and concerns.

When
Soon enough that you can all prepare well for the change.  Don’t wait until it’s obvious Mom’s pregnant (3 months before the baby comes) to tell the kids you’re having another baby.  Obviously there are some changes you never get enough time for, like the loss of a job or death of a family member.  But do your best to give ample time for adjustment and conversation.

Where
Someplace neutral.  Don’t put someone in an uncomfortable position or location and then tell them.  Do it someplace you’re both comfortable with and able to talk openly.  Don’t do it over email, or on the phone if at all possible (but doing it those ways are better than not having the conversation at all).

Why
Communicating change is a natural opportunity work through shared experiences together.  Communicating your feelings, thoughts, fears, and ideas about change are important not only for you, but for those who are directly impacted by the changes.  It should bring you closer together as a family.  Regardless of the outcome, being honest and truthful is the best thing you can do for yourself and everyone else.

How
I believe you need to be as honest and truthful as possible. Yes, you should be considerate and try to do it in the most loving and considerate way, but don’t be any less than honest.  For some communication tips, check out this post from Friday.  Also, try to limit your judgments, hate talk or denial.  If the other person immediately goes into judgment or denial, be honest, tell them it hurts, you’re struggling and  you just want to be open and honest about what’s going on.  Usually after the initial shock wears off people will admit they appreciated you being honest with them.

I know it can be scary to be truthful or talk about change that scares you.  But having an open discussi0n, without judgments, will not only make you feel better about the changes, you’ll hopefully have the support and understanding of the important people in your life.  What are your thoughts on talking about change?  Have a success or horror story?  Share your thoughts below!

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