If your child is off to school for the fall semester, you may have mixed emotions about it. However, there are plenty of things you can do to cope with the transition.
This article explores what empty nest syndrome is, and a few ways you can cope.
What's empty nest syndrome?
Empty nest syndrome isn't a clinical diagnosis, but rather, empty nest syndrome is a phenomenon where parents experience feelings of loss and sadness when kids leave home.
Although you might be actively encouraging your kids to be independent, the experience of letting go can be challenging. You may find it challenging to have nobody at home who needs your care suddenly, or you might miss being a part of their day-to-day lives.
You may also worry about their safety and whether or not they'll be able to take care of themselves. You may struggle with the transition if your child leaves a bit earlier than expected.
What's the impact of empty nest syndrome?
Past research has suggested that parents dealing with empty nest syndrome often experienced a great sense of loss that can make them vulnerable to depression, alcoholism, marital conflicts, and substance abuse.
Other recent studies suggest that an empty nest can reduce family and work conflicts, providing parents with many other benefits. When your child leaves home for school, parents have a new opportunity to reconnect with one another, improve their marriage and other relationships, as well rekindle interests for which they may not have had as much time to do beforehand.
How to cope with empty nest syndrome?
If you're experiencing feelings related to empty nest syndrome, there are a few things you can do:
Accept the timing. Avoid comparing your child's timeline to your expectations. Instead, concentrate on what you can do to help your child succeed when they do leave.
Stay positive. Considering the extra time and energy, you might have to devote to your other relationships and personal interests after your child leaves home can help you adapt to this significant life change.
Give yourself time. Your student moving out of the house is a big deal. Don't expect to feel okay or normal right after they leave; changes take some time to adapt to the new normal. Take it one day at a time, and don't feel wrong about maintaining regular contact by visiting, calling, or texting.
Focus on your other relationships. If you've spent the last 18 years taking care of your child, it's normal to experience some separation anxiety. You may feel like you're losing a part of yourself.
It's important to remember that you're not losing your child but entering the next stage of your relationship. Additionally, there are other adults you tend to lean on. To help ease the transition period, focus on strengthening bonds with the other people close to you in your life.
Be open to change. When you send your child off to school, the most challenging part can be adapting to how separation changes your day-to-day life. It's normal to feel anxious and sentimental, but change is a positive thing, and the distance that comes with college can strengthen your bond with them.
Seek support by meeting with a therapist or a counselor. Get a better understanding of your feelings and share them with loved ones, friends, as well as a mental health provider. They can help you work through this change in your day-to-day life and support you in finding ways to cope.
Can I prevent empty nest syndrome?
If your child is about to leave for school and you're worried about empty nest syndrome, try to plan ahead of time. Look for new opportunities, and get back in touch with things you used to enjoy doing. Keeping busy by tackling new challenges at work or home can help you ease the sense of loss that your child's departure can cause.
If you feel that you would benefit from additional support, contact us today.
Keywords: therapist, counselor, separation anxiety, grieving