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Dealing with Transitions

The arrival of fall signals changes. Summer fades and, in many areas of the country, leaves turn from green to multicolored hues. Children go to school. Some are returning, others are going for the very first time and colleges are welcoming nearly adult children into the fold. Each of these leavings, even of the youngest child, brings a brief, foreboding sense of more permanent change in the future.

There are predictable transitions in all families. Naturally, those transitions involving separation are the most difficult, while those that welcome new family members tend to be easier. Everyone can prepare for changes that will occur throughout the life cycle of the family.

The new couple experiences a leaving as well as a coming together. Often, the ritual of marriage is celebrated with great joy, but it is important to remember that there is loss amid the festivities. Knowing this may make it easier to deal with in-laws and parents who seem unwilling to let go.

Children are the next transition faced by the new family. The event of bringing a new baby into the family is usually surrounded by anticipation and wonder. At the same time, the new parents may feel sensations of anxiety and doubt. If they cannot express these concerns, at least to each other, there may be greater difficulty when the ba by actually arrives. Starting school is another one of these transitions and it signals a change in family patterns and routines.

In this mobile society, moving to another area is quite common in the life of a family. Both the sadness and the excitement of the move need to be expressed by family members. Children and adults both must make new friends and learn the ways of their new locale. Job changes, school changes, friends coming and going are all part of the natural transitions of life.

The death of a family member is met with deep sorrow and sadness. It, too, is a life transition and families who prepare for loss are much more able to cope with it. Families who mourn the loss and give each other support feel their strength at difficult times.

These kinds of transitions are predictable in a family’s life. By expecting them and knowing that they bring upheaval, both positive and negative, a family can move through each one more easily. So, if fall reminds you of change and you a feel a twinge, you are simply feeling your place in the natural cycle of life.

Dealing with Transitions

Charleen Alderfer

APA Reference
Alderfer, C. (2020). Dealing with Transitions. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 6, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 17 Jan 2020 (Originally: 17 May 2016)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 17 Jan 2020
Published on Psych All rights reserved.