Pam Rainey: To face change, collect yourself

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Senior Connection

A few days ago, I was in my office and overheard Sara Del Rio, our marketing assistant, lamenting about the new “Inves­ti­gations” math curriculum. The Denton school district recently adopted this new program.

Sara is a devoted mother of two. I think of her as a youngster, as she’s half my age. Sara’s resistance to change piqued my interest. And her comments reminded me that the older generation is not the only age group that voices resistance to it.

As I listened to this distraught mom, I stopped working, listened and carefully said, “Sara, you are young — do you mean you don’t like change any more than I do?”

Her response made me reconsider my opinion about how I perceive others’ fears.

“I am great in math, did well in school and it was my favorite subject. But, this new method terrifies me,” Sara said.

Could it be that fear of change is no respecter of age? Perhaps we might be somewhat prejudiced in labeling only the mature in our society as the population resistant to change.

Yes, many seniors are reluctant to try newfangled stuff. I speak from experience. Electronic books, texting, fax machines, e-mailing and cellphones were out of the question for me up until a short while ago. Now I embrace all of it.

But let’s get real. Seniors didn’t have to change as fast as our kids do. Rotary dial phones were around a pretty long time. Now, new devices appear among the array of cellular phones and computers daily.

If we are not on board with technology, we simply cannot survive. I have empathy for the elderly who, without help, must deal with automated voice machines when they simply need to get in touch with their doctor or want to know why their utility bill is incorrect.

For our younger set, technology changes so fast that their adoption is inevitable. No sooner do they get their new gadget home than a newer and smarter model appears on the shelf. I am amazed at how quickly my grandchildren learn to operate their new phones and can program mine in the blink of an eye.

After I heard young Sara talk about dealing with change, I was more than a little encouraged to learn that transforming habits and changing our ways can challenge even the young. And I began thinking.

Whether it happens in the classroom, the workplace, community or in our relationships, change helps us grow and learn. Change can make a world of difference in our lives.

Have you ever heard someone say, “This is the way it is, just get over it”? Isn’t it easier to hear, “Let’s make this transition together”?

If you are helping a child, teenager, adult or senior deal with change, please read on.

“My Best Teaching Expe­rience,” an article by Melissa Kelly on About.com, describes a high school student who was troubled, misunderstood and resistant to change.

Kelly devised a plan in which she stood at the door upon his arrival one day, calmly told him that if he was feeling out of control he could stop, go outside the door and collect himself.

The miracle was that the young man’s performance turned around.

Kelly wrote, “I believe that just giving him the power to decide for himself made all the difference.”

I suspect Kelly is not only an excellent teacher, but is compassionate and patient when presenting a new idea to her class. It sounds like she stepped into her student’s shoes, as many of our own wonderful teachers do. But her approach gives all of us reason for pause.

None of us wants change shoved down our throats.

“Students are people who have feelings and who don’t want to feel cornered,” Kelly wrote.

Sometimes, change continues to come slowly for me. But, in looking back, the most frightening changes — even changes I’ve resisted — have made my life better. I have also decided that I live in a world of change and if I stop and “collect myself,” many transitions can bring opportunities for me to excel like never before.

 

PAM RAINEY is a longtime Denton resident and a real estate agent who has helped many seniors make decisions about living arrangements. You can reach her with suggestions at RpmRny@cs.com or 940-367-1188.


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