By Christina Forgeron, Columnist
Living on the Edge of Security – Currently my son and I are experiencing upheaval in our lives including a change in family structure, selling a home we love in a neighborhood we love, and the panic of buying a house in a competitive market where houses are being snatched up, way over listing price, after a 48-hour listing period. It is a stressful time.
This housing crisis is real. I have a master’s in education, equity from our previous home, a job and a business and I am not sure how I am going to afford a house. Each day I grow increasingly more aware that many of us live on the edge of security – one major life event away from rattling the stability that we possibly take for granted. If you are experiencing a difficult situation and you have children, I would like to share my experience with you as my son and I navigate our own set of hills and valleys.
Let your kids in on it – Once I knew our lives were going to change, I told my son. He knew something was going on. Whispering around the corners and having private conversations behind closed doors made him feel that this was something being done to him. So, I opted to involve him in some decision-making and information-sharing.
I kept him home from school for one day and on that day, he received two pieces of bad news. One was that our family life would be different and two was that we had to downsize and sell our home, leaving our neighborhood, our friends, and a great life behind. I was direct, I did not sugar-coat things, and I did not get detailed. We got upset together. We both agreed it would suck for a little while. And I assured him that things would be ok.
In the days that passed, he picked two friends and asked me to tell their moms. He did not want to chat about it with them, but it helped that his closest friends knew he was going through something. I also asked him if I could tell his teacher, which we both agreed was a good idea.
A few days later, we discussed the most important things we both wanted in a house. We discussed list prices and he projected how much he thought a new house would cost. I taught my son how to analyze a house online and he became intellectually invested in the process, making both of us less emotional.
Stabilizing Routines – Throughout these times of uncertainty and high stress there are a few things that have grounded us. First, my son’s homework routine has remained the same. Every day, right after school, he reads, practices math and spelling, and practices his music. This is an investment in his ability and his brain that empowers both of us – it is that important.
Secondly, we read together every night. Side by side, he has his books and I have mine. Sometimes we read aloud but often, we just read quietly. It reminds us that there is a world outside of our situation. And, that no matter where we are or how we are living, we can do this – we can learn.
Third, we talk every night about how we are feeling. My son shares his latest worries, and I do not present solutions. I just listen. Saying them out loud is sometimes the greatest solution.
Someone told me that when you are going through something hard, you never say no to an offer of help. I have not and neither should you. Be well.