I’m Linda Marten, MSW. I will be posting helpful topics here at the new “Parenting Post” for parents & caregivers. Parenting is the most important, difficult job on the planet with little or no training. I believe parents/caregivers are the foundation of the future. You are raising the next generation! That’s a huge responsibility! (I know, I’ve raised two children of my own. It was one of the best things I ever did and one of the hardest things I ever did!)
I believe parents deserve a place where they can get ideas, support, encouragement, and discover they’re not alone. I hope this will be that kind of place for you.
Each month I will address a different topic. Please feel free to request future topics. Our topic for September is “Transitions” as we leave the fun of summer and go back to school routines again and the changing of the seasons.
So, what is a “transition”?
According to William Bridges, author of “The Way of Transition”, many people
think we resist change because we are afraid of the unknown and prefer to remain in old comfort zones. Bridges found that “most people do not resist change. What they resist is transition.” He says change is a “situational shift” (like changing schools, or moving) whereas transition is about the “process of letting go of the way things used to be and the taking hold of the way they subsequently become.” Bridges explains that transition is a “neutral zone” that follows an ending and precedes a beginning. It feels chaotic & uncomfortable, but it can be a creative time out of which a new beginning is born.
Many of us would rather rush through this unknown, uncomfortable zone. When the dog dies we quickly rush out and buy a new one to fill the void. Bridges advises to wait a while so we can learn from our experiences, looking back before we leap forward. (This also helps build resilience in our kids.)
Bridges says transition is a “three-phase process—ending, neutral zone, beginning again.” Transition helps us adjust to the changes in our lives.
How do you & your family experience transitions?
• Do you resist or welcome an ending & letting go of the old?
• Do you resist or welcome the discomfort of the in-between neutral zone, not knowing “what’s around the river bend”?
• Do you resist or welcome the making of an uncertain, risky new beginning?
Transitions can be large or small: From adjusting to a new school to life after a divorce. Life is full of change: endings, neutral zones and beginnings, over and over again. One thing is for certain, after every ending will eventually come a new beginning. (Watch what happens after a forest fire when all looks dead. Eventually, new life returns again. This is true for you and me as well.)
Children may have difficulty adjusting to change. They don’t have the perspective of an adult who has survived many changes. How the adults in a child’s life deal with change and transitions, can nourish a child’s growing resilience to weather the storms & disappointments of life.
Helping your child(ren) transition back to school & studies after summer:
• Look back over the summer & discuss it with your child. What was fun? What was difficult? What will they remember most? (Take some time for this. Enjoy the discussion. Stay open & listen with no judgmental comments.)
• Look forward to the new school year ahead. What do they hope it will be like? Fears? Hopes? What friends do they hope to see? If an older child, ask what’s their plan for time after school (friends, studies, sports, etc.).
o If your child starts feeling overwhelmed about school, remind them it’s only one day at a time and affirm their strengths.
What has helped you and your family cope with change & the transitions that follow?
I look forward to reading your response.
Next week: Temperament and Transitions…..