How do I have courage to move forward in the face of change in my family?

Gettting Cooper’s Mission Call to Ecuador

Change has always been difficult for me and required me to muster all of the courage I can to move forward.  Lots of changes happen after a husband dies, but my life has been compounded by my oldest two sons graduating and leaving to serve 2-year foreign missions for our church.

 My family is really changing.

The dynamics in our family without Scott and my oldest son, Alex, are really different. They were the comic relief. They were the ones who were always creating family activities. They loved to play. Cooper, Rachel and I tend to be more of the workers of our family, so it takes a concerted effort to keep up the fun, relationship-building activities. We are waiting for Cooper’s mission call this week, and it is hitting me that in three months we will be missing him as well.

I am watching my family leave me, and that is really hard.

As the second year of widowhood begins, I find myself thinking more of the future. Healing has happened in our family this past year, and I feel that we are all really in a good place. There is acceptance, understanding, and the desire to look for happiness in the future. I know were not all there yet, and I wonder if you really ever get all there, but now I feel it’s time to start preparing for the future. I know someday that I will remarry, and that we will have a blended family. We have been talking a lot as a family about what that means. We understand now that it will be hard to join with another family that has different traditions, habits, and already established relationships.

I started stressing with my kids the importance of our family relationships being strong.

If we are strong, then that strength will hold all of us together. Some of my children will live every day with their new blended family. Alex and Cooper will definitely be gone, and out of the house. I really don’t want them to feel left out or not a part of the new family dynamics. My hope is that their bonds with me and their younger siblings will draw them back to our family. That with time and effort, new family bonds can be formed and we can be a strong united family together.

God wants strong united families.

We would love to have dad back, but since that is not possible, we have to make the best of things. Helping another family who has also lost a parent, I think, is better than making the best of things. It is a chance for us to practice charity in our home.

It is a chance to take two things that are broken and make them whole again.

As I discuss these things with my children, we talked about how important it will be for them to be helpers. At first when I began talking to my children about remarriage I encountered a lot of resistance. There were tears, there were threatenings involving a the shotgun, and there was a lot of hurt and a lot of misunderstanding.

I let the subject lie, and I made it a matter of prayer.

From that prayer a new idea came into my mind. I started to talk about ‘adopting a family’ instead of me remarrying. I talked about my personal impressions and I told my children that I felt they could get confirmation through prayer that this is what our family was supposed to do.

Following an example I heard at a widow’s conference, I used a story from the scriptures to teach a principle. Around 600 B.C. in Jerusalem, a prophet named Lehi had a vision where he was told to take his family and escape just prior to the Babylonian captivity. None of his children were very excited about this. They were a wealthy family, and this meant leaving everything behind. The older children never prayed and received confirmation that what their father said was true. This led to years of murmuring and contention in the family. Eventually this caused a division in the family. On the other hand, Nephi, the youngest son, decided to pray about what his father had told them. He received confirmation that it was true. From that point on, Nephi was faithful. Nephi did great things to help his family. Nephi became the next prophet, and when his older brothers were planning to kill him, he was warned by the Lord and took a group of righteous people away.

I told my kids, they wanted to be like Nephi not like his older brothers Leman and Lemuel. I sent them off to pray, and they all came back feeling this is what our family should do some day. I know this isn’t going to fix all the problems, but knowing something is true and right can give you strength to do hard things.

 16 And it came to pass that I, Nephi, being exceedingly young, nevertheless being large in stature, and also having great desires to know of the mysteries of God, wherefore, I did cry unto the Lord; and behold he did visit me, and did soften my heart that I did believe all the words which had been spoken by my efather; wherefore, I did not rebel against him like unto my brothers.

Now back to our family dynamics today. We recently did a remodel project in order to better sell our house, and now each of my children have their own room. It has been far too easy for everyone to go to their own space after school and simply be alone. I have watched as the alone time has caused children to become less patient and tolerance with each other.

Sunday night we had to have a little realignment meeting.

We talked about the little time that we had left together.  We talked about the importance of those relationships being strong for what was going to happen in the future. Then we made a plan to spend more time together. Eric wanted to read to Rachel every night. This was something that Scott did with the kids, and Alex took over after his death. When Alex left, Rachel missed Alex and didn’t really want anyone else to read to her. Eric wanted to do this for her, and after we talked it out, she agreed that it would be a good idea. Cooper and Eric decided that they will work out together. We tried this before, but Eric was less than excited about it. Now that he has grown several inches in the past few months, he is feeling the need to get stronger. Cooper agreed to be his workout buddy and not his coach. We decided with the warmer weather, that we would start doing family walks again. Everyone was onboard for that. We also agreed to do a family game night. This is not Cooper’s thing, but he agreed that he would be happy and participate.

So we have good plans, now we have to do the work and put it into action. It’s so much easier short-term to just let everyone have their own space and do their own thing, but I know long term that will not make the strong family that I want to have.

 

It’s worth the effort to work through the problems

so that we can eventually arrived at the goal.

Yesterday while Cooper worked, I helped Eric learn how to cook and we worked on Rachel’s science project. There was even an impromptu pillow fight- not initiated by me, but I was glad to prove that I can still trounce my two youngest!

After work Cooper met us for dinner and we went and saw a movie. We had lots of good chatting time. We planned our upcoming cruise and got excited about that.

 

Family relationships take a lot of work,

but I have learned that nothing in life that is really worth it is ever easy.

I love my kids. They have been my rock, my reason for moving forward, and they are what brings me joy!

Whatever challenges and difficulties you’re struggling with, remember that family is important and family is worth it. Even if the family is at the root of the struggles, look for relationships that you can improve and find joy.  If we have courage and act, we can make changes in our families and move successfully forward.

 

Question to Ponder:

1. What can you do to improve family relationships at home?

2. How can counseling together as a family improve relationships, ward off misunderstandings and create a more peaceful home environment?

 

Additional Reading:

Comments

  1. wrote on March 4th, 2014 at 6:17 am

    Kat

    Thank you so much for your thoughts. My husband died almost 14 months ago and I have also thought I will remarry someday. My daughter often spends hours in her room by herself and my two boys get on each others’ nerves. What a great solution and plan. I will have to do better about taking charge instead of letting things just happen. Thanks!