Four and a half years ago we moved 400 miles away from our home in Las Vegas where we had lived for 12 years. My oldest son was 14 and was in the middle of his freshman year of high school. My others were 12 (7th grade), 8, 6 and 3. We moved back to the city where my husband and I grew up and where much of our family still lived. We have a lot of friends here as well. I naively believed that because of knowing so many people here and being familiar with this city that the move would be smooth and easy. I'm not sure why I believed that because even going to the grocery store is complicated when you have 5 children!
The reality is, it has not been smooth or easy. Moving teenagers or kids of any age, (but especially teens in middle and high school) from their dear friends of 12 years is not easy. It was a challenging time in their lives and has continued to have it's challenges. We moved to a very established neighborhood where kids have lived their whole life and had been in a friend group since elementary school. It's tough to break into that social structure. This is not to criticize the people in the neighborhood we live in, they are very warm and friendly, its just the facts of moving when your kids are older.
It was challenging to go to school and be the new kid, the fact is, it has taken a long while for them to find their people and honestly some still struggle. It was hard to hear kids talk about social activities and not be invited. It became very apparent that our home needed to become their "soft place to fall". The atmosphere at our home needed to be one of positivity and acceptance where they knew they were loved no matter what. That meant some things had to be put on the back burner because they were less important than my children feeling loved and knowing we were in their corner. I remember a conversation with my sister. I was telling her my boys were pushing back against scouting advancements and merit badges. She wisely said, "Your kids have had a huge life change. What is more important, scouting or your relationship with your boys?" Of course the relationship was of utmost importance, I just needed a reminder.
The last four years we have really focused on our home being the place our kids could come and just relax and be themselves. Since they haven't had tons of social activities outside of school, we have greatly enjoyed having them at home more. We have listened to their music, watched their movies and laughed at their youtube videos. We have really learned who they are. As much as I want them to have friends, I have found as they have found friend groups and go to social things I find I miss having them around.
Is your home a soft place to fall? What does that mean to you? To us it means to drop our agenda of what we think their lives should look like. They need to have the power to choose their course. It means they know they are accepted as they are, no stipulations. Their worth has nothing to do with their accomplishments or social activities. Their worth is innate and we value them wherever they are on their path. This doesn't mean they don't have accountability to help around the house or to let schoolwork go by the wayside, or to not have a job and learn to work...what it means is that we are loving and positive and kind. We teach and encourage, never put down or discourage them.
I am grateful for this move. The lessons I have learned in the last 4.5 years have been life changing. What can you do today to create a soft place for you children?