Page 11 - Peace-Centered Family

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by change, a period of adjustment and adaptation inevitably follows. The
system will seem to dig in its heels and resist change through sabotage.
Expect it. This is simply an automatic, knee-jerk reaction to change.
A family system is a living organism that is dynamic and fluid and,
even though it is in our nature to crave homeostasis, to regain the famil-
iarity of old patterns and out-of-date roles, we can’t. When change hap-
pens, the family that was, no longer is. There’s no way around that fact.
Once we pass through stages of resistance and denial we ultimately have
to adapt. The trick is not to adapt in unhealthy ways.
Moving though the progression of a transition is challenging
enough, but add to that the conflict that often accompanies change.
Even the transitions we expect or look forward to like the birth of a child
can bring conflict. As soon as my daughters were born I knew they were
just passing through my hands and would have to leave home when they
grew up. But when they actually left, the mother in me wanted to yank
them back into the nest and admit that I had really never wanted them
to leave. Yet I had to find a way to smile as I said goodbye. I had to learn
to feel happy and fulfilled without them living with me under the same
roof. I can’t say it was easy, but it was necessary, so I did it.
My husband Valerio felt the pain as much as I did. How do we live
as two instead of four? We were coming home from Safeway now with
two bags of groceries instead of ten. A loaf of bread lasted a week. When
the phone rang, it was always for us. There were fewer beach picnics.
We lost the companionship of the other young adults we had known
since childhood, because they had all gone away too. The house felt
empty. Our marriage felt incomplete. Our children were healthy, happy
and were headed for successful lives and we were utterly sad.
If we are so unprepared to deal with these inevitable winds of
change, how can we possibly expect to manage when no turbulence is
forecast?
How Do We Strike a New Balance?
The simple answer is: “learn to see the family in a new way.”
Instead of using the medical model, which presumes that symptomatic
behavior is due to illness––as all of us in the mental health field are
trained to do––I propose that we look at our families using a business
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