When I was in the 5th grade, my family moved from Sacramento, where I’d lived most of my young life, to Yuba City, California. It was only 40 miles away or so, but it might as well have been another planet! All I could focus on was the fact that I was going to have to leave behind everything I knew (and loved) and start all over. It was a lot for my 11-year-old self to handle.
A lot of those same feelings came rushing back when I was watching Sofia The First with a friend’s daughter. While she was engrossed in the beautiful colors, voices and movement, I was mesmerized by the message. Yep. Change is hard, change is real, change is constant, and change can ultimately be good.
In case you don’t know the story of Sofia the first, here’s a quick primer:
But, as you can see, the change wasn’t just for Sofia; it meant a pretty big adjustment for Amber too. I don’t want to spoil it for you but suffice it to say, it works out in the end, with a few rough patches along the way. In the real life version of Sofia, there are things we as parents can do to help all kinds of transitions go a little more smoothly. And above all, explain to our kids that change is a part of life.
1. Talk to kids about change. I can remember my mother talking to us about the move. One of the things she said that made me feel so much better was that no matter what I was was going through, I wasn’t alone, that someone in the world had done it before I had. She was right! Kids have been moving with their parents since the beginning of time and they’ll keep doing it. I was not alone in my apprehension and knowing that others were going through the same thing, perhaps at the same time, helped me feel better. I say it to my own kids (without fail on the first day of school), and repeat it to myself when facing something new.
2. Shower them with attention. In talking with people who are part of a blended family, one of the things I hear time and again is to make sure everyone feels special. That means ALL the kids, not just those new to the abode. Dad could have taken both girls to a dancing class or had an outing just with Amber.
3. Embrace the different culture. Incorporating a different way of doing things, be it walking the dog or waking up on school mornings, is a critical part of change and change is a part of life. In Sofia’s story, since she was from Galdiz, Amber might have taken time to learn something special about her home town to make Sofia feel welcomed and Amber feel like she helped make Sofia more comfortable.
4. Make new traditions. This is another aspect of embracing a different way to doing things. Amber could have been the one to introduce Sofia at the ball or they could have both done father-daughter dances. In real life, that means teaching our kids about traditions and ways of doing things that are different from our own. Who knows? We might be able to marry some of those to come up with new ones.
5. Give them responsibility. We know that children will (for the most part) rise to the level of expectation so give them some responsibility. Amber could have been the one to show Sofia around the new school and introduce her to people who were going to be a part of her new life. With our own kids, let them take on some big responsibilities and help them if need be. We might be surprised with what they are can accomplish on their own!