When a Door Closes... 

- Joellen Monson

There is an old saying that goes: "When a door closes a window opens." Some people embrace change and flow smoothly from one adventure to the next. Others seem to go quite reluctantly toward the unknown, kicking and screaming the whole way. It's useful to consider how your family deals with transitions from one life stage to another. Chances are each of your family members may handle change differently.

How we help our children handle transitions can make a huge difference in their lives. Yet, how we, as adults, look at those same changes is just as important. Surely, you've heard the stories of parents who enthusiastically put their kindergartener on the school bus on that first day - waving goodbye as their "big kid" launches their school career on their own. Then these same parents secretly follow the school bus all the way to school in their car to ensure that they see with their own eyes that their child made it safely to school.

What message does this kind of behavior send to a child about the importance of trusting other caregivers? What does it say about your confidence in your child's abilities to begin taking care of themselves? In today's world parent's seem to need to learn to walk a fine line between blind trust in others that could put a child in jeopardy versus doing everything for the child, robbing them of confidence versus concretely building steps toward responsible self care.

Our children need to know that we have done our best to prepare them for each stage they must go through in their lives. By giving children small yet growing opportunities to learn self reliance we teach them that we value their abilities and develop a sense of pride in accomplishment. Simple tasks such as chores around the house, feeding pets, picking up after themselves all contribute to a child's true sense of self competence.

Sometimes it's not the child who isn't ready for the new experience - it's the parent who isn't ready to allow their child to grow up. Parents can have issues with transitions too. However, if we have done the skill building in our child, if we have done our research about the new situation and can trust the adults who will be taking our place as caretakers then we need to let our children go. Bit by bit we need to show them that we are confident in them and can handle them growing up.

A final saying is that "A parent's job is to teach their child to walk then to teach them to walk away". So whether it's a door closing, a window opening or a school bus driving away it's a chance for your child and for you to have a new adventure.