Life is full of changes, tangible shifts in our experiences and circumstances. Some are minor (e.g., waking in the morning), others more significant (e.g., having a baby, changing careers).
According to change-‐expert William Bridges, change is an action or event—e.g., becoming a parent—and transition is the “inner reorientation and self-‐definition that you have to go through in order to incorporate...changes in your life.” For a change to succeed—even a change we’ve chosen—and for us to fully integrate and embrace it, we need to transition from what-‐ was to what-‐is and what-‐will-‐be, from the past to our new life-‐chapter.
Expectant couples (especially those expecting their 1st child) & new parents go through multiple changes, and accompanying transitions, in rapid succession.
(1) From childless couple to a couple with children (or from current number of child/ren to a larger family, for those already with kids);
(2) From being a pregnant couple to a couple with kid/s (especially noteworthy for 1st baby);
(3) For birth moms: From being physically pregnant to no longer being pregnant;
(4) For couples where one spouse plans to stay-‐at-‐home (SAH): From a dual to single income household; plus, for the SAH parent: From working outside to inside the home;
(5) For 1st-‐time parents where both parents return to work: From childless employee to employee with kid/s.
Whatever the change, we can navigate it better if we assess, honor and mourn what we’re shifting out of, and consciously move towards what we’re transitioning into. These questions can help individuals and couples capably transition through diverse changes, e.g., parenthood. If you respond to these questions with your spouse/partner, do your best to remain open and curious with each other and resist the impulse to impose your responses on each other.
(1) Celebrate/Enjoy: What do you want to honor and celebrate about the chapter that's ending, including acknowledging positive ways you showed up for that experience?
(2) Mourn/Miss: What aspects of the experience (or of yourself) do you imagine you’ll miss or mourn from the chapter that's ending, even if it was a chapter you’re happy to complete?
(3) Release/Let Go: What do you want to leave behind from the chapter or experience that's ending (both tangible and concrete elements (e.g., a colleague, an object), as well as intangibles (e.g., an attitude, a memory)?
(4) Continue/Maintain: What tangibles &/or intangibles do you want to carry forward? (5) Create/Invite: What new, future possibilities are you inviting, or do you want to invite, into your life as this chapter/experience ends?
©2012 Parent Alliance®; adapted from Myth Change exercise ©Center for Right Relationship
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