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Creating rituals during rites of passage

At the time of this recording high schools and colleges are beginning again. This can be both an exciting and nervous time for both teen girls and their parents. In today’s episode I want to explore creating rituals around your daughter preparing to graduate high school this year and going off to college next year or moving out of the family home. If she this is her first year at college I will be sharing some ideas to support her and you (the parents) in this transition.

In this episode you will learn:

  • There are various rituals all over the world that acknowledge, celebrate or reflect transitions in life. (Sometimes referred to as rites of passage.)
    • There are graduation ceremonies and open house parties for when your teenage daughter graduates high school
    • We have funeral services to celebrate and remember those we loved
    • We have rituals around the change in seasons
    • One area I notice that seems to need a little help is creating a ritual within the family system to help with the transition from high to college or into young adulthood.
  • This is a time for both your daughter and you where you maybe excited and nervous about the up coming changes
  • You may also feel sadness and loss, which is normal because one chapter in life is closing and another one is opening.
  • Sometimes the sadness gets over looked or it can come out as anger
  • Transitions are about personal development
  • Transitions involve grieving
    • of what you had,
    • of expectations that may not have occurred
    • of moving forward in what is to come
  • William Bridges in his book called Transitions states transitions involve an ending, a neutral zone and a new beginning.
    • During the ending phase
      • Disengagement-“we find ourselves periodically being disengaged either willingly or unwillingly from the activities, the relationships, the settings, or the roles that been important to us.”
      • Disidentification-“In breaking the old connections to the world, the person loses ways of self-definition…most people in transition have the experience of not being quite sure who they are any more.”
      • Disenchanted-“But there is still the reality in that person’s head-a picture of the “way things are,” which ties the person to the old world with subtle strands of assumptions and expectations.” For example: parents sometimes lie for fear of being imperfect, friends let you down, etc “Many significant transitions not only involve disenchantment, they begin with it.”
      • Disorientation-“One of the first and most serious casualties of disorientation is our sense of and plans for the future.” He states this part “affects not only our sense of space but our sense of time as well.”
    • Neutral Zone is a “temporary state of loss”
      • Here you need to surrender-“the person must give in to the emptiness and stop struggling to escape it.”
      • Allow yourself to go inward. Bridges suggests setting aside alone time, writing your autobiography, writing about what you want in your life and think about what would be unlived if you died today.
      • I suggest quiet time to my clients so the can continue to explore more of who they are in vs who they think they need to be
    • Making a beginning
      • “The lesson in all such experience is that when we are ready to make a beginning, we will shortly find an opportunity. The transition process involved an inner realignment and a renewal of energy, both of which depend on immersion in the chaos of the neutral zone.”
        • “Genuine beginnings depend upon this kind of inner realignment rather than on external shifts, for when we are aligned with deep longings, we become powerfully motivated.”


  • Some ways to help with moving forward in the sadness and excitement is talking about it with one another.
  • Share your memories of times that made you laugh, your hopes you have for your daughter, ask her what she is hoping for and what she will miss when she is done with high school or moves out.
  • Create a plan around having some quiet family time to reminisce or share favorite family meals together
  • Go out to her favorite restaurant or dessert place
  • Watch family movies together. It can be quiet entertaining to watch those past moments and help create a deeper family connection.
  • Ask her what she would like to do prior to moving out
  • Remind and encourage your daughter to stay in contact with her current high school friends when she leaves for college. Some of my teen clients think they have to establish all new relationships once they leave for college and think they can’t maintain their current friendships. Yes those relationships can change over time, but they do not need to end the friendships when they leave high school.
  • Parents remember to keep having dates nights and spending time with other adult friends without your children
  • This is the time of letting go. Letting go of who you used to be and embracing the new you as your daughter moves on in her life
  • You have raised her, supported her, disagreed with her and loved her in the best ways you knew how. Now it is time for her to continue to branch out and spread her wings.
  • “The ending of childhood is one part of the shift from life’s’ morning (or dependency) to life’s noon (or independence). A second part of that shift involved establishing a separate identity, distinct from that of so-and-so child.”
  • School holidays or breaks:
    • Reflect and explore what is working and what isn’t with her. Find out if she is needing or wanting anything different from you or her support system
    • Continue to encourage and support her in her journey into young adulthood
  • Actively listen to her-you do not need to fix or do anything as she shares her experiences unless she is asking for advice (I will have a future episode in being present in listening)
  • Self care is important during transition
  • Allow yourself to explore or be curious on the other side of the change
  • There is an ending and a new beginning
  • As a therapist I have had the privilege of witnessing some pretty awesome family moments regarding creating rituals that fits for that specific family. Some just need a little nudge to say it is ok to this and sharing your feelings about the changes can be healthy process. You continue to role model to your daughter you too have feelings about this transition and supporting her in her journey.
  • If you need more support I encourage you to seek counseling. If you are in the state of IN I offer both office and online or phone counseling http://LaunchingYourDaughter.com

Book Recommendations: (Affiliate Link)

Transitions: Strategies for coping with the difficult, painful, and confusing times in your life by William Bridges

Nicole Burgess is a licensed marriage and family therapist in Indianapolis, IN. She works with teen girls and women in overcoming anxiety. Call 317-840-0490 for your free 15 minute consult and begin investing in a healthier and happy you.