Jane missed her daughter terribly. She would call her daughter several times a day. She realized that she needed to let go, but she just couldn’t. One morning, as she sat on her patio in her bathrobe, she was taken aback by the sky. She had never seen it so beautiful. Her mind began to think back to the days when painting was a big part of her life. That day she bought some sketch pads and some paints and brushes and started thinking of ideas for things she wanted to draw. It wasn’t until that evening that she realized she hadn’t called her daughter.
Having the last (or only) child leave home can be painful. This is an experience that every parent goes through and survives. Think of the empty nest as a common cold. It’s tough to keep going in your daily activity. There’s no real cure. But over time, you’ll feel better.
Here are some do’s and don’ts for coping with the empty nest.
1. Do accept your son or daughter leaving as a natural phase of being a parent. Keep telling yourself that your relationship, while it will change, will always be strong.
2. Don’t cling. You need to let your son or daughter explore this new phase of his/her life as independently as appropriate. Let your student initiate the calls and visits home.
3. Do think of this as a transition when you also get a chance to move to a new phase in your life like Jane did. Think of things you always wanted to do, but never seemed to have time.
4. Don’t keep being the high school student parent. You need to start to trust your son/daughter to make wise decisions. In effect this is a test of how effective you have been as a parent. Start expecting your son/daughter to be an adult and start having adult/adult conversations rather than adult/child conversations.
5. Do enjoy your son/daughter’s transition to adulthood. You’ll be amazed by how much students change in just a short time in college.
6. Don’t discourage your student from pursuing opportunities that keep them from returning home in the summer or pursuing study in another country. You might want to have your student home, but that may not be the best thing for your student’s professional development.
How long does the empty nest feeling last? That varies by parent, but it’s generally gone in a matter of a few months. You’ll still want to cling to family traditions and vacations as a family, but overtime you’ll move on to the next phase of your life and start looking forward to grandchildren.
The empty nest is finally over when you start thinking about your plans for your son/daughter’s bedroom..