For parents, this can be a tough time of year, especially if their children have moved out of the family home to attend school or to begin working. It is common for parents to display signs of Empty Nest Syndrome. This is a phenomenon in which parents experience feelings of sadness and loss when their children have left home. Letting go can be painful, even though you want to encourage your children’s independence. Empty Nest Syndrome can leave couples and parents vulnerable to depression, alcoholism, identity issues, and marital conflicts.
Here are some tips to help you cope with Empty Nest Syndrome:
- Think about rekindling your relationship and caring for yourself. This is a time when you can focus on your partner and yourself on a day-to day basis. Take a vacation from parenting, just for a little while.
- Know that you can still maintain a close relationship with your children, even though you are no longer taking care of them in your home. Now, more then ever, it is easy to keep in touch with text and instant messaging, Skype, email and phone. Distance is not like it used to be. I suggest, however, to not constantly check their Facebook or Twitter updates. If you do, it is likely that you may see things that you do not agree with or may not have allowed them to do when they were under your roof! So try your best to let go and not check in on them this way.
- Spend time with your friends, family and your partner. Share your emotions if you are feeling down. Some of your friends are likely going through the same thing!
- Look for new opportunities in life. Take charge of your time. Maybe you have wanted to join a gym, or a certain group, but didn’t have the time due to family obligations. Now you can! Keep busy, as it will ease the loss you feel. Let go of the reigns, you worked hard and raised a child, now it is your time to relax and enjoy- you deserve it!
Know that this is an adjustment period, and the sense of loss you feel will ease with time. This is a chance to look at your relationship with your children in a new way. Your child is growing into an adult, and although you will always be a parent, you are now building a friendship.