June signifies many different things to children, parents, teachers, families, one of which is graduations. As we celebrate graduations, be it from Kindergarten to First Grade or High School to College, I want to introduce the concept of “Bardo”. It is a Buddhist concept meaning transitional state, intermediate state, in between state. Understanding Bardo is to embrace the developmental step of facing the intersection of what has been and what will be.
The perspective of “Stepping Stones” as a process of transitioning from one stage to another allows us to incorporate ‘Baby Steps” in to our transitions tool kit. Quite literally, toddlers learn to walk one baby step at a time. They do so, even with falls, with glee and tears. The same is true for children, adolescents, families. It is natural to feel a sense of excitement and also uncertainty as one stage ends and another begins.
Transitions mean that we must let go of what has been in order to create space and opportunity for the future. With transitions for children and adolescents, caring adults must separate their own feelings so they can remain clear headed and in charge of assisting with navigation challenges. It is not unusual to feel a sense of loss. Feeling that loss is important to then be open to new horizons and moments.
Children and adolescents need connection, guidance, wisdom as they bridge to the next chapter. It is imperative that we listen, encourage, support and be steady, present and engaged. As they “Baby Step” through “Stepping Stones”, we must be close at hand. Some stepping stones can be slippery and create anxiety as to how to actually move forward. Our loving presence and “hand reached out” reassures that we are there to “catch them”.
Breathe and feel what parents have felt for generations, unbridled pride and love. Stay close, listen, share, remain present and engaged. It is through connection that we take next steps that become next chapters in the lives of our children, teens and families.