We are continuing our conversation about transition tips, and today we are talking about when your family dynamics shift.

If you asked people to list what’s most important to them, most people would include family on that list. In the past, it was thought that family meant two parents, a couple of kids, and throw in a golden retriever while you’re at it! But over time, the term family has shifted and embodies so much more. To me, Marvin Lazenbury describes family perfectly:

Your family is the support system around you, and sometimes that support system can shift. Today, we will be talking about commons ways family dynamics shift, what can make these shifts difficult, and how to make them easier.

When Can It Happen in Life

Marriage

You take the time and get to know someone. You fall in love and decide to get married – what a beautiful thing! The merging of lives together can be amazing. But like anything else, it comes with its ups, like love, support, communication, companionship, and downs, like sharing finances, discord, communication issues. This family dynamic shift is hopefully a positive one that fills you with joy and support and love. 

Divorce

Unfortunately, sometimes things don’t work out in your marriage, and you decide to split up with your spouse. Not only are you splitting from your spouse, you are splitting up your assets and potentially time with your children. This separation will cause a huge shift in your family dynamic and potentially in your identity.

Children 

When we think about family dynamic shifts, this is probably the first thing that comes to mind –children. Deciding to have children or adopt is no small decision – it is one that will impact the rest of your life. Soccer practice, ballet, bake sales, middle school drama, college – all these things will be new realities for you. Your time is no longer your own; children will test you, and make you go a little insane, but they are such a gift. Children will absolutely shift your family dynamic.

Moving

Maybe it’s for a job, a new adventure, or to be closer to family – whatever it is, moving is definitely a shift. Your entire scenery and all your patterns change, and that will have an effect on you. You have new norms, new friends, new schools, heck even new grocery stores and dry-cleaning places. Moving is a big change, and that stress can have an impact on your family dynamic. 

Sickness and Death

Sickness and death of family members are unfortunately a part of life. It is heart-breaking when this happens to those close to you. Grief and sadness can be present for quite some time, and the loss of loved ones will change you and your family. Know that it is okay and encouraged to talk to someone if your grief becomes too much to bear. 

family moving

What Makes These Transitions Hard

This is New Territory

Whatever piece of the family dynamic is shifting, it’s going to be brand new! You don’t know exactly what to expect. Know that this will be a new, uncomfortable, and probably overwhelming time, and lean into it. Humans are creatures of habit, but choosing to do something new could open a door into a world that is right where you belong. 

Stress 

With this phase being new, stress is bound to occur! Stress can result from positive or negative shifts going on in your life. It’s going to be important to know what relieves your stress, because stress is bound to happen! Is it spending time with people you love, reading a book, going on a run, taking a bath? Find out what those stress relievers are for you and put them into action!

Unmet Expectations

Maybe you thought your marriage was going to be one thing, and it turned into the complete opposite. Or maybe you thought having a kid was going to be easy, and it definitely wasn’t. Or you thought a move would solve so many problems, but it only brought more on. Before making a decision that changes your life and the lives of those around you, make sure you count the cost. Do your research and know more about what you can expect. Change is a beautiful thing, but make sure it’s the right time and that it’s right for you! 

when you life changes with unmet expecations

How to Make This Transition Easier

Communication

These changes that you’re making are very big and will affect you, your time, your future, and those around you. Have conversations about what next steps, realistic expectations, and support look like. Making sure everyone is on the same page, and having a solid support system while you embark on this new adventure will be beneficial in achieving success. 

Know that it’s normal

At least one of these family dynamic shifts will happen in your lifetime, and probably more than just one. Lean into the process of figuring out your new normal. Some days will feel great, full of love, and you will be confident in the decision you made. Other days will feel miserable and you will doubt everything. These feelings are normal. Ride the wave, communicate, and know that you are not alone!

It’s okay to get help

These shifts and changes are really hard and stress-inducing. Know that it is okay and is healthy to talk to someone when things get hard and overwhelming. Seek out and get support from trusted friends, or even a therapist. I am personally a verbal processor, so talking things out really helps me align myself, choose how I want to show up, and determine the next steps.

Know that there is no right or wrong way to be a family

Families come in all shapes and sizes. Maybe you’re married with children, maybe you’re a single mother who decided to adopt, maybe the friends around you are your family. People might have opinions about how your family looks and what it should or should not be. If you feel loved, supported, and seen, then that is a beautiful and healthy family!

Family shifts are hard, and no family is perfect. Know that there are going to be ebbs and flows, ups and downs, and that it is all going to be okay. These shifts will bring you so much joy, heartbreak, lessons to learn, and it will help shape you into the person you’re meant to be. Ride the wave and enjoy it!

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Brooke McCord

Brooke McCord

Brooke is a Transition and Life Coach with Ama La Vida. She was born in Sonoma, CA, raised near Atlanta, and now calls Seattle home. She enjoys cooking, being outdoors, exploring new places, and spending time with friends and family. Read more about Brooke's story here!