Ten steps to make a new place your home

Ten-steps-to-make-a-new-place-your-home

At some point or another, we all move away: to a new house, a new city, or if you’re like me, a new country. And while this transition may be more common for students who move away for their education, lots of adults find themselves in the middle of this scenario too.

When we uproot ourselves from our home, we face a whole new collection of challenges. Your social structure is mostly non-existent, your everyday routine has been tossed in the air, and simple questions like, “How do I get to the nearest Target?” can send you into a spiral of Google searches and awkward conversation starters.

We have to find our footing at our new place of employment (or find employment) and must learn to navigate a whole new culture. And to be honest, it’s difficult to establish yourself when no one knows you and you know nothing about them.

If this is you, then I’m right there too. The transition to a new home isn’t easy, but it is do-able. Here are ten steps I’m following while I try to make myself a home in a new city. 

  1. Find a place to belong

Before you make the move, identify a community you can build a life around. It could be new housemates, new work mates, a parents group, a church, a book club or a gym. This will centralise you and give you something to work towards straight away.

  1. Find mutual friends

It’s likely that a friend, colleague or loved one knows someone in your new city, or at least knows someone who has been there. Ask your mutual friend to connect you over Facebook or text, and see if you can meet up for coffee or go for a walk. In a perfect world, this would lead to a great friendship, but even if you don’t ‘click’, they’ll be able to give you great advice on how to set up your life there.

  1. Don’t be afraid to ask for help

The first few months in a new place are rough, purely because everything is so different. If you need help moving, finding a job, getting transport or finding directions, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Ask your new community (from step 1), a mutual friend (step 2), or even the city tourism office. If all else fails, talk to your family and friends back home.

  1. Go exploring

Take an afternoon to wander around your new neighbourhood and meet the people there. Find the local convenience store, the best coffee shop, and see what people do for fun. Once you’re settled in this, branch out and take public transport or drive downtown and to other suburbs locals suggest. Make this your city.

  1. Don’t be afraid to fail

Transition isn’t easy. There are some days you will feel accomplished, like you’re fitting in and the move was the best decision you ever made. Other days you will question why you came here and how you can keep going. It’s okay. In the moments when the negatives seem to outside the positives, take a breath and talk to someone from home. Give yourself permission to break routine and recharge, and then keep going.

  1. Be innovative

You have to think outside the box when you’re on your own. The ways and means you normally would have achieved things won’t always work here. So if you’re sick, lost or lack transport, get creative. Think about the ways other people handle these situations, and instead of calling home (which is now hundreds of miles away), look online. I once had medicine and lunch delivered to me through an app because I couldn’t get out of bed.

  1. Back yourself

No matter how you’re feeling or what self doubt comes your way, you’ve got this. You were strong enough to make this transition, and you can complete it. So be kind and gracious with yourself, and celebrate the wins. Every new day is a victory, as is every new social encounter, journey through the city and dinner invitation.

  1. Find a place that reminds you of home

Often the places we move to are completely foreign to us. The way things look, sound and smell are completely different to what we are familiar with, and it takes time to adjust. If you can, find a place in your new city that reminds you of home. It may be in the natural environment (for instance, by a beach or in a forest), or a coffee shop that smells familiar.

  1. Create a routine

Transition is difficult because you have moments of emptiness where you don’t know what to do. Begin to create a routine so your life has some kind of structure. Go to work, find a gym, commit to a community group, go to church, join a sports club or create a social night at home where you relax with housemates or your spouse. Plan these things out in a diary, and you will feel purposeful.

  1. Say ‘yes’

Did someone at work invite you out for drinks? Say yes. Did a friend suggest a local restaurant or movie theatre? Say yes. Did an acquaintance add you on Facebook? Say yes. You have nothing to lose in this new season. So short of taking care of yourself, don’t be afraid to say yes to new people and opportunities that come your way. You never know what will come out of them.

Have you moved away from home? Would you like to explore strategies and techniques to help you through this transition? Here’s what you need to do: contact Colleen on 0434 337 245 or Duncan on 0434 331 243 for a FREE 10-minute phone consultation on how we can best help you, or press book now to book on our online diary.

Are you moving on or running away? : Eight keys to navigate life transitions

Are-you-moving-on-or-running-away

Transitions are never easy. We’re often faced with them after a season of stability and apparent ‘safety’, and this means the idea of rolling the dice on a new adventure, relationship or experience, is terrifying.

Transitions provide us with three options: stay where we are, leap into a new experience, or run away. If you’re a self-doubter like me, you may even sway between two or three of these options, unsure what the next step is. You may doubt your motives, your readiness, or be in complete denial about what the next step in your life should be.

There is no ‘one size fits all’ answer in transition. Each of us will respond differently when they arise, and the best and healthiest course of action will vary. Often, the answer lies in our ability to recognise whether we are running away from a situation or if we’re naturally moving on to something new.

Are you in a period of transition? I sure am, and these are eight questions I’ve asked myself to assess my best course of action for my future.

  1. Am I afraid of the future?

Sometimes, the fear of the unknown and what may go wrong (or right) keep us from moving into a new phase of life.  We can all take steps to prepare for the future, but there comes a time when we need to take a risk and move forward. Don’t let fear hold you back.

  1. Am I afraid of staying still?

Perpetual transition and the inability to put down roots is the trademark of someone who is afraid to stay still in life. If you’re afraid of what life could be like if you stopped and invested in relationships, a community or a business, then it may be time to stop running and plant yourself for a season.

  1. Am I afraid for the safety of my loved ones or myself?

One of the most common transitions comes when we step out of a relationship. In any long-term or marriage relationship, it’s important you see a counsellor (preferably with your partner) as it’s always preferential that you save a relationship rather than break up.

BUT if you fear for your safety and the emotional wellbeing of yourself and your family, it is time for you to leave. Call it running away or moving on—it makes no difference when your wellbeing is involved.

If you’re experiencing domestic abuse or violence, call 1800-RESPECT.

  1. Do I have commitment issues?

If you’re scared of being in a long-term relationship, you’ll consistently run away from anyone that threatens your independence. Sometimes this happens before a relationship can evolve, and other times you’ll casually date or hook up before the other person asks for a commitment and you run for the hills. Don’t be in denial about it. You are allowed to live a single, happy independent life, but if you’re living it out of fear of committing to a single person it’s time to do some work on yourself.

  1. What are my responsibilities?

Whether you’re moving on or running away from responsibility—and whether you should—will largely depend on what they are. Responsibility for your loved ones, especially children, will always come first. Sacred responsibilities like this should never be run from, just nurtured so you feel supported in the process.

However, if your responsibilities are work related, or are tied to unhealthy family or relationship attachments, then a different course of action may be required. Unrealistic expectations that negatively infringe on your health, happiness and the people around you shouldn’t be adhered to.

You need to move on from these responsibilities, either by seeking new employment, gaining external support through a counsellor, or changing your routine so you live a healthier and happier lifestyle.

  1. Am I prepared?

Are you prepared to stand still and fight for your relationship? Are you willing to take a leap of faith and make a new life for yourself with a new job, relationship or community? Are you ready to leave the pain of the past behind?

Preparation isn’t just physical; it’s emotional too. If you’re willing to make an emotional commitment to the next (or current) phase in your life, you’re ready to take the next step.

  1. Who am I doing this for?

Irrespective of whether you stay, run or move on, the people you do it for will determine how healthy the transition is. Committing to a relationship or working on a current one are both risks worth your time—they are about your happiness, and the happiness of the people around you.

However, if you’re basing your next life transition on the unhealthy expectations of others or unrequited love, believing you will be more ‘whole’ if you take this step, you need to stop and reassess. Who you are is enough, and transition is about becoming more ‘you’, not proving yourself to others.

  1. What do I want?

What do you want for your life? Do you want safety, security and a place to belong? Or maybe you want to live an adventurous and exhilarating life, full of unexpected moments and people. How you answer this question will help you determine if you need to stay, take a leap of faith or move on to something new.

Are you going through a life transition? Are you running away from something or need support to save a relationship? Here’s what you need to do: contact Colleen on 0434 337 245 or Duncan on 0434 331 243 for a FREE 10-minute phone consultation on how we can best help you, or press book now to book on our online diary.

How to have a positive mindset

How-to-have-a-positive-mindset

It’s easy to pour compliments on other people, but showing love to ourselves is another challenge entirely. Often we see ourselves negatively, and critically compare our ‘weaknesses’ and ‘flaws’ to the so-called perfections of the people around us.

The truth is though, that we are worthy of love. In fact, we are just as deserving as the person we perceive to have it all-together, who in reality, is probably also self-conscious too. So how do we start showing ourselves love?

By changing our mindset. In this infographic by Simply Stepping, we are given a list of common complaints we have about ourselves.

“I can’t do any better!”

”I’m so fat.”

“I look stupid.”

Does this sound familiar to you? By challenging these thoughts and reframing them to something more positive, we slowly change our mindset to one of self-love and infinite worth.

So next time you think, “I’m not as good looking as them, no one could ever love me,” grab the thought and change it to, “When I compare myself with others I waste my precious time and energy. My beauty is defined within, and the people that matter love me for me.”

Take a look at the infographic and see what negative mindsets you can change this week. Start with one and see how you go. Overtime, you’ll begin to believe what you’re saying, and will be made stronger by your own self-love.

How-to-have-a-positive-mindset---kindness-talk

Do you often criticize yourself? Would you like to develop a positive mindset? Here’s what you need to do: contact Colleen on 0434 337 245 or Duncan on 0434 331 243 for a FREE 10-minute phone consultation on how we can best help you, or press book now to book in our online diary.

How I Personally Managed Transition

Talking with Counsellor, Mentor and Business Coach Duncan Morris

Duncan-MorrisIf you are a keen observer of nature, you will know that transition is part of the natural order of things. We call the transition between day and night ‘twilight'; the transition between summer and winter we call ‘autumn' or ‘fall'; the transition between being a child and being an adult we term ‘adolescence'. Transition is the movement between the old and the new, sometimes swift but more frequently transition is slow and even painful. It is for this reason that we can experience transitions as stressful and disorientating. When you are experiencing a transition in your life or even considering a transition, it is easy to doubt the decision you made to leave the ‘old'. Hearing the experience of others who have made significant transitions and how they have coped and adjusted is necessary for encouragement and motivation. In this blog, Jessica Morris interviews Counsellor, Mentor and Business Coach Duncan Morris about the transition he is presently experiencing, how he copes with the inevitable changes and the positive outcomes for his health and wellbeing.

JM: Having made the decision to transfer from management to counselling, can you tell us what motivated you to make the change?

DM: Having been in senior management for 10 years, the last four in the public service, I became aware that my personal values were not only being challenged, but my work/life balance was nil. I was either at work, or thinking about work constantly. In addition, my role in management had grown enormously- 10 fold in fact. I realised my job was too big for me. After struggling with this for some time, I was faced with the fact that I needed to assess my career and lifestyle choices.

JM: Can you tell us about the risks involved in making this transition?

DM: When considering the need to be true to my values and gain a better work/life balance for the sake of my physical, emotional and mental health, and my family relationships, I asked myself what I really wanted to do with my life. I loved working with people, and initially trained as a social worker with the aim of being a counsellor. However following graduation, I walked into a management position and continued to climb the ladder of success. Now after so many years working in this sector I was needing to assess the risks to me leaving a well paid secure position and the status that has become important to me.

Risks I considered were how my reputation and identity would be impacted in the professional world that I had been a part of for so long. Financially, I was on a good salary and did not have to worry about expenses, yet the idea of transitioning from this position would mean there would be literally no guarantee of an income in the future. The means by which we would now pay for expenses and costs like our mortgage would be up in the air, and I was unsure as to how my family would react to my decision to go from a secure and well paid position to an uncertain future. I had no certainty of actually having clients and to top it all off, it had become evident that I was pretty burnt out. What if I didn’t have the physical capacity to start and sustain my own private practice due to this?

JM: In spite of these huge, and often life changing risks, there were also benefits involved in this change. Can you tell us about them?

DM: I would be able to set my own workload and therefore better care for myself physically, emotionally and mentally. I would no longer have to be involved in the politics and bureaucracy of the workplace in a large organisation. I would be able to work one on one with people; this has really energised me in this transition. In addition I would have opportunity to be more positive and proactive about my wellbeing and family relationships. I would be able to sustain them in a healthy manner. Ultimately, these benefits far outweighed the risks involved in moving from a secure job in senior management to that of a private practitioner.

JM: What has changed since you made the transition?

DM: I made the move, and I am more relaxed around home and the house now and my health is improving. In many ways, the roles have been reversed in our household and my wife has become the major bread winner. She has been supporting me financially and I’ve been making a conscious effort to do things around the house that I took for granted previously. I’ve handed the finances back to my wife as well, and she is far stricter than I was. However, this is very much needed due to our new financial circumstances. I am much more aware of money I spend because we now need to be able to survive as a family on our new budget. In terms of family relationships, I’ve had the opportunity to spend more time with my daughters, and this has allowed me to cultivate a deeper relationship with them. They often tell me that I am happier now and have more energy. A special privilege has been that I have been able to support my mother in a more intentional manner as her husband and my father died earlier this year. I simply would not have had the time or the energy had I remained in my previous managerial role.

JM: Lastly, after making this difficult transition yourself, what advice would you have for others going through, or considering a similar change?

DM: If you, like me, have been considering making a transition in your life, I encourage you to be true to yourself. Know yourself and your needs so you can be healthy and happy. Ascertain what your personal values are in the work environment and in life, and determine what is important to you as a person and in your work life. Create a support network around you; not just in your family relationships but also in the form of professional support. I meet with two different mentors who work in the business sector and they have helped me to work through the transition.

Any transition is difficult, and the changing circumstances of the past 4 months have been challenging for both myself and my family. My safety net is that I have the skills and abilities to get a financially secure job should it be required. To date that has not been required, as a family we are doing well with what we have. I am getting healthier and am enjoying life far more than I used to. Ultimately, I get to do what I enjoy the most: work one on one with people. In doing this, I am fulfilling the intentions I had when entering this industry 20 years ago.

Are you undergoing transition in your life? Do you need extra support as you navigate personal and professional challenges? Call Duncan on 0434 331 243 for a FREE 10 minute consultation on your specific needs. If you are ready to make an appointment, you can do so by clicking on the orange icon on this page BOOK NOW and follow the prompts. 

Transitions: 5 Steps to Help You Leave Home

Moving_forwards_by_captivatedimagesIn this article, Journalist and Guest Blogger Jessica Morris reflects on, and gives valuable advice about the process of leaving home, both from the perspective of the young person and their parent.

Leaving home is a natural step in the process of growing up. Aside from the obvious act of physically leaving your parent’s house, there is a progression prior to this. Getting your driver’s license and then a car stretches the bond a teen has with their parent; they are given a sense of independence. Likewise, when a teen gets a job and their own income, this also alters the parent/child relationship dramatically. And after the child leaves school, there is an innate sense that they are free to do as they choose. After a while, the young adult feels as though they are a boarder in their parent’s house. They may still rely on their parents in times of trouble, but they are now able to facilitate their own life. Therefore, the act of moving away from home routinely follows these steps.

A young adult will be excited to live their own life, but may be unprepared for the realities of true adulthood. As someone who “left the nest” relatively late, 23 years old to be exact, I have had to adjust to becoming totally independent as I moved across the globe. Aside from the normal pressures of moving away from home, I have also had to adjust to a new community, a new residence and a new job. While I am still adjusting to life in Florida, there are five things I have found fundamental during my transition from home. I believe many of these also reflect the changes and challenges other young adults go through. So for all the parents who are concerned for your ‘babies' welfare, take note of these points and young adults, read these and allow yourself to relax. Transition is always difficult, but these five steps might make it a little easier.

1. Stay in contact with home

This may sound simple, but the balancing act of investing in the lives of your friends and family while also developing your new life is a challenge you will constantly juggle. Make time to contact those you are close too. It will be difficult, but fight to keep the relationships that matter. You will inevitably lose contact with some people, this is normal. Don’t allow yourself to become bitter about this; it is a natural part of life.
Parents don't force your relationship; let your child initiate contact. Give them the space they need to start their own life. Begin to develop an adult relationship rather than one purely reliant on your care of them.

2. Develop new relationships
Moving away from your community can be lonely, so make a point to reach out to new people. Housemates, colleagues, sports teams or church groups are excellent ways to meet likeminded people. Step out and purposely develop relationships. This is a new chapter in your life, embrace it.

3. Take time for you
Each person’s experience when moving away will be different. Some will have all the basic skills down pat, but will struggle emotionally. Others may be unable to cook or do their washing, but still be quite content away from home. Give yourself the time to feel these emotions, try to stretch yourself and develop new skills.
Parents, the fact your child may still rely on you for meals, washing and even finances is to be expected, but have boundaries.  Remember as much as this move is about your child's independence, it is also about yours. Teach your child the skills they need, and schedule times to catch up over dinner.

4. Be realistic
The prospect of leaving home can be romantic and full of adventure, but try to stay level headed. Do you have the finances to live away from your parents? Do you need roommates? Consider what you will eat and if you will cook, and don’t assume moving in with your friends means there will be no conflict. Be prepared for the challenges that will come, stretch and ready yourself for them as best you can.
Parents, there will be times your child needs your support whether this be emotionally, physically or financially. Let them know you are available and to what capacity you can give them this, but don’t coddle them. Allow them to make mistakes, let them create their own budget (or lack of). Allow them to ask for help.  At times it may feel like you are watching a car wreck, but this is all a part of the experience your child wants and needs.

 5. Be kind to yourself
You can plan the move from home down to precise details, but you cannot guarantee how things will pan out. There will be nights you feel more emotional, allow yourself to cry. There will be days your body freaks out, you will dramatically add or lose weight and may find yourself displaying symptoms of stress or anxiety. This is okay. You are establishing a new life for yourself; it is going to take some time to adjust. Ride this as best you can and learn new habits to keep yourself healthy.
Parents don’t stress or panic, your child will be fine. Remember you went through this process too.

About Jessica Morris

 Jessica Morris is a 22 year-old free-lance journalist living near Melbourne, Australia. Passionate about pop culture and how this intersects with mental health, faith and social justice; she seeks represent this generation within the media. You can view her work at www.jessicamorris.net.
If you would like to know more about how to navigate your present transition experience or need support as you experience your own transition contact Colleen on 0434 337 245 or go to www.watersedgecounselling.com to book an appointment.

 

Transitions : Letting Go

I have been going through a transition that I am almost on the other side of as I write this blog article. For a number of years I have dreamt of having my own ‘stand alone' private practice as a Counsellor and Family Therapist. Today I am finally sitting in my own office in Geelong where I will now conduct Watersedge Counselling from. I am noticing that I still have a little adjusting to do. My new space does not feel entirely my own yet. It is like I need to settle in and establish a relationship  with  it. This is somewhat surprising to me because I anticipated that I would feel at home immediately. I am brought back to the knowledge that my transition is not quite complete yet.

It takes time to ‘let go' of the old in order to embrace the new. I was reminded only recently as I sat with a couple who had transitioned to a new space in their relationship that to complete any transition, no matter how positive that process is, you must leave behind and let go of something that is familiar. To do so implies that there will be a grief process where you need to review what you have ‘let go' of and why that was so, in order to move on.

As I have pondered my  present transition experience, I have thought about some of the things you may need to let go of and the reasons why you must let go to be able to transition well.


Letting go of relationships evokes conflicting emotions

You might feel sadness, pain, anger, guilt, regret or you may feel freedom, relief and pleasure. It is more likely that you will feel a mixture of both positive and negative emotions as you separate from that relationship. 
Sometimes the transition has been initiated by a relationship that has become toxic to either one or both of you. Even when the relationship has been a painful one, you will experience feelings of loss and devastation and wonder whether you did all you could to try and save it. Talking these feelings through to give you clarity will allow you to let go and make a strong transition. 

 

Letting go can be about the need to survive

When you no longer have the physical, emotional and/or mental energy that you need to ‘hold on' to a relationship, pursuit or interest you realise that you have to let go to have some energy to look after your own needs. This can be incredibly painful for everyone involved. Feelings of loss, rejection, failure and guilt can follow you unless you take the time to talk about them and find closure.



Letting go of dreams

Dreams of the way you had hoped things might have been but  never eventuated have to be let go. Those hopes and dreams may have been necessary to survival however there comes a time when you have to let go to transition to a new place. Talking about your feelings, the broken promises, and broken dreams as well as the memories you cherish is important for you to be able to let go and move on.



Letting go can be initiated by circumstances

Circumstances where you have made the decision to relocate for work or family reasons, leaving the people you worked or socialised with, behind. When you are eager to move on or have had to do so quite suddenly, it is understandable that closure of relationships does not always happen. Sometimes you are just simply preoccupied with the business of relocating. Other times there are other emotions that you find too difficult to acknowledge to the people you leave behind. Understanding and acknowledging your experience and where possible, saying goodbye to significant people is important for a good transition.


Ritual is a great way to fully let go and transition strongly. Ritual gives closure to the experience and/or relationship you are letting go of. There is no one way of doing ritual because ritual is a very personal experience that holds unique meaning for the person who participates in it. You can create your own ritual, as long as it holds meaning and provides closure to your experience.

Whatever the nature and purpose of your transition, give attention to what you have let go of and how you acknowledge it. By doing this, you ensure that moving forward will be a smoother transition. If you would like to know more about how to navigate your present transition experience or need support as you experience your own transition contact Colleen on 0434 337 245 or go to www.watersedgecounselling.com to book an appointment.

Family Transitions: The Empty Nest

Geelong counselling- empty nest for families in transitionYou have invested possibly 17 – 25 years of your life into your son or daughter. The years hold memories of laughter, tears, celebration, struggle and pain. As a parent there have been times when the responsibility of raising your child has been costly and you have looked forward to the day when they would be independent and living their own life.

On other occasions, the prospect of your child leaving home may have brought with it a profound sense of loss. All of these feelings are normal and part of the human experience. It is important to acknowledge the complexity of emotions you feel as you make the adjustment to living without your adult child at home.

When our children leave home we can feel physically and emotionally empty. Our feelings are telling us that we have suffered a significant loss and we need to grieve our loss.

The period of grief is different for everyone however if you find yourself stuck in this grief for a lengthy period of time, reflect upon the following questions to help you process what your ‘stuckness' might be about.

1. What role did this child have?

A. In your family

Some examples of typical roles family members have include: ‘the peacemaker', ‘the clown', ‘the good girl', ‘the helper’, and ‘the negotiator'. When that person is no longer present to maintain their role, it upsets the equilibrium of the family unit. It takes time for the family members left behind to adjust to the change.

B. In your relationship with your partner

Frequently when couples experience unresolved issues in their relationship, a child will become the confidant and friend for one of the parents. She becomes the container of your feelings and emotions and can be relied upon to intuitively understand your needs. In this way, the couple can remain together without the tension becoming unbearable. When she leaves home, the couple are confronted with the problems that were never resolved and find themselves isolated from each other.

2. Does that child have particular significance for you?

For instance, is he

  • The youngest child, your ‘baby'?
  • The child that survived significant trauma at birth?
  • The child that reminds you of your now separated or deceased lover?
  • The child you never thought you could have?

When a child holds a particular memory or experience for us, it can be particularly distressing to ‘let go' of them.

3. What meaning do you ascribe to your child leaving home?

Leaving home is necessary for your adult child to become his own independent and separate person with his own beliefs, values and lifestyle. When we don't allow our offspring to separate from us, be it physically or emotionally, we stunt their growth as normal functioning human beings.

Sometimes a parent can feel rejected when you see your child so eagerly leave home and take on a lifestyle that may not be reflective of your own. If you can identify with this, understand that this is her opportunity to explore who she is. Neither of you want a carbon copy of yourself!

4. What other friends and interests do you have?

It is very normal to discover that in the business of raising children, you have neglected to invest in your personal development and social network. Take time to reflect upon your own hopes and dreams for the future. It may be your time to begin something that you have always wanted to do but never had the time.

You may also have neglected your relationship as a couple and feel like your living with a stranger. It is important to sit down together and talk about your hopes and dreams as you anticipate this next phase of your life together. Get to know each other again and be intentional about doing some activity together.

As you read this, you may find you identify with some of the experiences I have described. If this is the case for you, then you may find it helpful to talk to a Counsellor about your experience to help you fully understand and process your loss.

It may be the right time for you and your partner to seek Couple Counselling to ensure that this next phase of your life together is a satisfying and rewarding experience.

If there are other family members still living at home, it may be well worth you doing some Family Counselling together to talk about the changes that are occurring.

Counselling will help you to understand how your child leaving home impacts you and the people around you. It is important to talk about your experience so that you are able to process and integrate it, and identify what it is you need to do in order to move on and embrace a new beginning in your life.

If you want to grow, experience wellness and reach toward your full potential then here’s what you need to do contact me on 0434 337 245 for a FREE 10-minute phone consultation on how I can best help you.

 

Family Transitions: On Becoming an Adult

A common issue for many parents with young people living at home , is how to deal with behaviour that challenges parental rules and expectations.

I have 2 young people living at home and my husband and I have been intentional in our working to create the positive relationships we now enjoy with each of them. That work has been primarily about addressing our own unrealistic expectations and beliefs about how they should act and what they should be doing at any particular age.

Frequently parents come to counselling requesting that I facilitate change in their young person. I generally find that it is not the young person who must change (they already have enough on their plate) but the parents beliefs and expectations about their young person.

Here a few suggestions to think about:

1.Don't sweat the small stuff

A messy bedroom, curfews, money management , dietary habits, dress, friendships and sexuality are just some of the issues that become points of conflict with your young  person.

It is worthwhile to ask yourself if the issue that is particularly causing conflict is worth sacrificing your relationship over. In my own experience , I have come to recognize that when I am able to tolerate and accept my young persons approach to life, they are more likely to respect my approach and be willing to negotiate aspects of our living together that are causing significant problems.

Of course, where a young person is clearly at risk or putting others at risk, it is important that parents are proactive in negotiating safe boundaries, doing so with kindness and respect for them as a person.

2. Be encouraging

It is very easy to fall into the trap of speaking negatively to your young person. When we are feeling frustrated, anxious, disappointed and helpless we frequently communicate those feelings by our talk, our body language and our behaviour. Your  young person, already feeling confused and insecure about themselves, hears the message reinforced that they are a failure, incompetent, and hopeless. It is likely that they will either shut-down and not communicate with you or get angry and act out. Both of these responses are your young persons attempt to protect and defend themselves from further negativity.

Become a good detective and learn to pick up on what your young person does well. The smallest achievement can be congratulated and encouraged and your relationship will benefit.

3. Be approachable

Be available. This sounds self- explanatory however your young person is very astute at picking up whether you are emotionally as well as physically available to them. If you say you are available but continue to work on your lap-top while your young person try's to address you, you are sending a conflicting message.

Be respectful. Remember that your young person is growing towards adulthood and is wanting to be treated like an adult. Learning to contain your frustration as a parent and respect them as another adult, will in turn, encourage them to be respectful of others, including yourself.

Listen without giving advice . Have the courage to let them work it out for themselves. They might make mistakes, even fall flat on their face, but our best teacher is experience itself.

4. Trust the process

Your young person is going through a complex developmental transition . This transition, driven by the biological imperative to separate from their parent and become autonomous, is a lengthy process for human beings because the development is occurring at a number of levels; physical, cognitive, emotional, psychological and socially.

Internal chaos and confusion occurs in the young person because each aspect of the person is changing at a different rate. For instance, we know that a young male generally maturates physically and sexually before he maturates emotionally and psychologically. We also need to be aware that when any potentially traumatizing experience occurs during this stage, that one or more aspects of development are likely to be delayed.

Be patient, trust the process and remember that over time, as the developmental transition occurs, your relationship with your young adult is likely to be richer and more satisfying having  made the effort to remain connected with them through a difficult stage of life.

If you want to grow, experience wellness and reach toward your full potential then here’s what you need to do contact me on 0434 337 245 for a FREE 10-minute phone consultation on how I can best help you.