Transitions big and small

June 13, 2024

Dear Reader,

When you think about the most recent transition you’ve been through, what feelings do you remember experiencing?

When I’m anticipating a transition, or in the midst of it, I’ve often felt a disorienting mix of emotions: excitement, apprehension, confidence and insecurity.

June is a time of transition for many children and teens, and their parents, too. My husband and I are spending this month in New Orleans (yes it’s hot!) with our son, daughter-in-law and seven-year-old grandson Rafael. In our first week with our him, Rafael had only two scheduled activities—a big difference from his school year schedule. We invited him to help us plan and cook meals (meatballs, tacos and pizza!) and let his interests lead most of the time. He played and played and played, did a little bit of painting and clay work, helped me sort through his bookshelf to find the books he was ready to pass on to his younger cousin, listened as we read to him and did some reading on his own. And he talked us into letting him show us some of his favorite videos. We had a wonderful week! This week, Rafael is attending a day camp, my husband flew to Oregon to visit his brother, and I have some time to work.

These seasonal transitions are minor compared to many of life’s big transitions: graduations, a health crisis, becoming a parent and/or leaving the paid workforce to be an at-home parent, taking on caregiving responsibilities for an adult family member, a death in the family.

Some transitions sneak up on us. The strategies that keep a family with a toddler and newborn afloat might not be the strategies needed a few years later. Inevitable changes and unexpected events create the need to reassess and rethink. Is it time to reconsider day-to-day activities and responsibilities? Is it time to allow our growing children more freedom?

Communities and nations go through transitions, too. In a newsletter last month, I referred to an article by historian Heather Cox Richardson on the origins of Mothers’ Day as a call for world peace. As Fathers' Day approaches, I wonder about the ideas our culture has about fathers and peace, about fathers and nurturing. Fascinating research findings about fathers are explained by anthropologist Sarah Hrdy in her new book Father Time: A Natural History of Fathers and Babies.

Where can we find hope for a transition to a more nurturing, peaceful world? Please see introductions below to a few of the organizations we (Family and Home Network’s Board members and I) find empowering and inspiring.

Happy Fathers’ Day, and happy transition-to-summer!

Cathy Myers

P.S. We’d love to know what you’re thinking about transitions—or about anything else! Send me an email and I’ll share it with our Board members, or join us online in Family and Home Community.

Find inspiration and ideas about human thriving at Kindred

Riane Eisler offers knowledge and hope

Dr. Eisler calls for a move away from systems of domination to systems of partnership. And says: "The caring economics of Partnerism recognizes the vital economic contribution of the life-sustaining sectors. [...] the work of caring for our natural environment and caring for people, starting in childhood."

Mens' bodies and brains change when they nurture

Anthropologist Sarah Hrdy is renowned for her research and books on mothers. In her new book, she shifts her attention to fathers. As the book opens, she tells of her surprise at seeing so many men doing so much baby care these days. She didn't see any men doing any baby care as she grew up. I'm about the same age as Hrdy, and my father did a lot of baby care (which was unusual in the 1950s but I probably haven't realized just how unusual).

Hrdy explains that when men spend time caregiving, they are biologically transformed. The scientific evidence is fascinating, showing the power of nurturing, not only for babies but for those who care for them.

Play, play, play

It helps with transitions and so much more

"Through play and time, children get to experience how to connect facts, their creativing and imagination, their joy... There are essential threads that can be used in both play and teaching: Wonder. Curiosity. Joy. Knowledge. Imagination, Interaction, Risk, Time, Reflection and Listening." Suzanne Axelsson on the DEY (Defending the Early Years) podcast with Keisha Reid.

"I'm hoping that if people really understand the hows and whys of creative play they'll understand how important it is. And they'll ensure that children have time and space to play in ways that nurture imagination and creative thinking. " Susan Linn, PhD, author of The Case for Make Believe: Saving Play in a Commercial World.

Attachment Play: How to solve children’s behavior problems with play, laughter, and connection by Dr. Aletha Solter. As the author explains, play can help not only with solving behavioral problems but also prevent problems, foster cooperation and increase happiness. This is a great resource for any parent (or grandparent) looking for guidance and ideas about playing with children.

See more resources on Play, on Education and Activities, and more in the Resources listings on our website.

Please forward this newsletter to family and friends, that would be a great help!

Family and Home Network, P.O. Box 72134, Durham, NC 27722
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Family and Home Network

National nonprofit organization offering affirmation, information and advocacy to parents, with a focus on at-home parents and those who spend (or want to spend) generous amounts of time with their children. Advocating for Inclusive Family Policies.

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