Practicing with Children

Parenting Through Change

change–by Chris Lenshyn

We were in a tight spot! Our rental town house was being sold. We had to be out within 2 months. We were in process of selling my mother’s house 2 provinces away so that we could buy a house together and live communally in British Columbia. The attempted sale of mom’s house dragged on and we couldn’t afford a down payment on a house in B.C. So we were stuck. We would go look at houses, find a house that would suit our collaborative needs, and it would be sold when our realtor would call requesting a showing, or it would be sold minutes after we looked at it. It sucked. We needed to move fast, but couldn’t. We were waiting while the minutes to our eviction counted down.

What made it worse is that we didn’t necessarily want the change in the first place. The townhouse itself was completely impractical and actually kind of annoying to live in. Yet the community we lived in was amazing. We developed many great friendship there. Our boys could simply walk out the door and play with a number of other children at the end of our dead end street. We saw ourselves living and renting there for years to come. But alas, that was not going to happen. We needed to deal with this change. Not just as parents, but for our kids. This change was hard.

This forced change offered opportunity. Ask me at 16 and moving in with my mother at age 35 is not something I want to do… not at all. Yet things change. My father passed away a few years ago which definitely changed things for my family, and most immediately my mother. After much thinking and praying we decided that this was the best thing to do. Still the difficult change lingered.

The story concludes well. Mom’s house sold and we had about 4 weeks to find a place. We looked at about 15 houses and finally found one that worked well. We were in by the end of the month and are currently trying to live happily ever after. If anything, I was reminded of the seemingly concrete reality that change is not easy. In fact, we could even use the word, tough.

It reminded me of a shirt I had in high school of the cartoon character Dilbert saying “Change is good, you go first.”

The tag line for Lent is often, “the journey to the cross”–or something along those lines. As we dive head first into the Lenten season we will find a season wherein we are called to confess and come to terms with our own vulnerabilities. The intentionality of this orients us to the cross and it disorients us at the same time. The way we look at the world… changes.

Children too, it seems, are impacted by change. I can write quite confidently that physical, emotional and spiritual change impacts our children. My children felt the change of moving from one neighbourhood that was loved, to a brand new area in the middle of the ‘burbs. It seems overly simplistic to say such, but to set the context within the Lenten season, in the midst of a world constantly changing, compels parents to, in one way or another, facilitate the organic yet stable presence of God during change. The intentionality is beautiful.

For us, we kept as much the same as possible during our change. We read devotions, had the same family time, shared meals and continued to make up bed time stories. But in all we emphatically tried to communicate that our children were loved. That even though our oldest boy can no longer simply walk across the street to play with his best friend, he is indeed loved. Even though it is an exciting or intimidating thing (depending on who you are…) getting to meet new neighbours, we are still loved.

Practicing parents, experiencing change is a reality for all people, yet communicating to our children that they are loved in the midst of change is a beautiful step in the grand narrative of Jesus, walking with us to the cross and saying: You indeed are loved.

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