Late summer marks the time when many teenagers move away from home to attend colleges and universities, near and far. Other recent high school graduates join the military while others opt to move out, work and experience independence. We, as parents, are so involved in our children’s academics and athletics, that 12 years of schooling fly by and before you know it, the last child has left home. Suddenly all the years of parenting, chauffeuring, doing laundry, cooking, running errands, going to appointments and attending practices/events/functions come to a screeching halt. Your once bustling, messy home is now a quiet place with a void to fill.
Welcome to Empty Nest Syndrome! What you are feeling is absolutely normal, whether you are on the sad spectrum or the cheering spectrum. I fall somewhere in between. But if you are on the very sad side just try to accept your teenager’s move toward adulthood and embrace the change and then you too will move forward to an exciting time of life. Look at the bright side…you now have the freedom to follow dreams that were set aside while raising a family. At first this may seem like an impossible challenge but you shouldn’t dwell on the fact that your role as a parent is changing. Although it’s never easy to let go, it’s time to cut those cords and allow your sons and/or daughters to experience freedom and growth. Be enthusiastic and supportive about their entrance into the world and give them space to learn how to cope with everyday life. This will give your teen the opportunity to adapt, explore and learn from their mistakes. But do be prepared, at first, to only hear from them when they need money or advice. Please feel free to share what has helped you during this emotional phase of life.