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How Can I Support My Mom in Making a Change?

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From a young woman in Latvia:  I should start by saying that I have never posted a question online before. I’m usually pretty logical and level headed and can resolve issues on my own. But this one has been tormenting me and I cannot seem to figure things out.
My mother who is in her mid 50s has been teaching her entire life at one school. It’s the school me and my sister graduated from as well. Over a decade ago. But it’s what I know, what I’m familiar with.

Now my mom suddenly got an opportunity to take the same position but in a better school, and she took it. I feel like she did it without thinking things through too much (got an offer on Monday, went for an interview on Tuesday, and accepted the job on Wednesday). She never looked into changing jobs in the past.

I, of course, congratulated her and told her that she’ll do just great in a new place, but the more I think about it the more anxious I get. And it makes no sense to me. She’ll be doing what she knows best, and, clearly, she was confident about making the move.

But I keep crying hysterically because any kind of change scares me. I’m not showing this to my mom because the bottom line is that I want what’s best for her. I don’t want her to feel stressed, I don’t want her to feel regret, I don’t want her to make bad choices…

She told me that it will be extremely difficult for her to leave the school she’s has worked in for so many years, and I offered her to help her move her personal belongings but what if I’ll just break down and start crying in front of her? That will make her feel even worse, and I can’t handle it.

I don’t understand what’s wrong with me. This has been keeping me up at night, and I keep thinking about it, and I just keep thinking how I wish things could just stay the same. But that’s not going to happen. I want to support my mom in the best way. Please help me understand what is going on and how I can help my mom instead of stressing her out. Thank you in advance.

How Can I Support My Mom in Making a Change?

Answered by on -

A.

Thank you for writing. I think you already know that her choice to change jobs isn’t about you. Having raised you and your sister with the stability and consistency of being with you in the same school, she now sees an opportunity for change. My guess is that she needs to stretch herself in new ways and can’t do so in a place where expectations are that she will continue as she always has. It’s something to celebrate that she is willing to take the risk and explore something new and different.

It’s possible that you are grieving childhood’s end. Your mother’s decision to move on in her career does indicate that your childhood is over. Like most adult children, there is a part of  you that wants to hold time still; that wants nothing to change at “home” while you make all the changes. It does offer some comfort and security to think that way. But parents are people too. It’s natural for them to want to grow and change too.

I’m glad you aren’t sharing your extreme reactions with your mother. You are probably right that she needs and appreciates your support, just as you often need hers. If you can’t help her move her personal things without breaking down, maybe you should find another way to be helpful.

If this explanation isn’t enough to help you make sense of your tears, please do consider seeing a therapist for a few sessions to work it through.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

How Can I Support My Mom in Making a Change?

Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

Dr. Marie is licensed as both a psychologist and marriage and family counselor. She specializes in couples and family therapy and parent education. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2019). How Can I Support My Mom in Making a Change?. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 20, 2019, from https://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2019/08/21/how-can-i-support-my-mom-in-making-a-change/
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 18 Aug 2019 (Originally: 21 Aug 2019)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 18 Aug 2019
Published on Psych Central.com. All rights reserved.