As graduation time arrives, many parents may soon be facing a child going off to college, or out on his/her own. This period of time is often referred to as “Empty Nest Syndrome.” When your children leave your home, you may feel a combination of emptiness and freedom. If you are struggling to cope, the following suggestions may help:
- Expect a wide range of emotions such as sadness, loneliness, emptiness, worry, guilt, uncertainty, anxiety, relief, excitement, hope and freedom. Your feelings are completely normal.
- If you are married, talk with your spouse about your feelings. If the emptiness seems overwhelming—characterized by prolonged grief and deep depression that interferes with normal everyday living, seek the help of a professional counselor, health care provider and/or someone from your church.
- Agree on a way to regularly communicate with your child. Consider how, how often and where.
- Think about the things you have always been interested in but couldn’t pursue because your time was taken up with the children—going back to school, traveling, new hobbies and recreational interests, etc.
- If your child is going off to school, try to make arrangements to visit the school. If you know exactly where your child will be living and spending his time, you’ll be less anxious.
- If your child is getting married, understand that your child is an adult now, and treat him/her like one. Be supportive in your child’s choices.
- Now is the time to make new friends.