Did your child leave for college, and are you left with an 'empty nest?' Chances are that you do not feel 'empty' at all. Chances are that you are handling the situation pretty well. In a comprehensive study about parents' well-being when children leave home, Genevieve Bouchard concludes that the consequences of children leaving the parents is relatively positive. Other studies also indicate that 'empty nest syndrome' is largely a myth.
That being said, it is a fact that interaction and activity patterns between parents and child have to be modified for the family to persist. And that families have to adjust to the new situation. The system is being profoundly modified.
Becky Scott in 'Life in the Empty Nest' gives the following advice:
1. There is no 'right' way to cope:
Just like with pretty much everything in parenting. Although parents would like to have the one right way to approach a problem, an issue with their children, there is not one right way. Each family, each parent and child have to find a way that works for them. There is no formula, but there is room for creativity.
With your child to come to an agreement about how often you will be in contact, with your spouse how you will fill your child free schedule.
3. Address and resolve conflicts immediately.
As both children and adults are adjusting into their new roles, it can be stressful for both parties. The pain and conflict that can emerge during this time is not a new conflict, but typically something old. It might be the time to take a closer look at this. I think of a mother whose very old feelings of abandonment were triggered. Although she wanted her child to become independent, she was perceiving his striving for independence as an abandonment, a rejection. The difficulty this woman was facing was how to find a balance between supporting her children and letting them learn on their own.
4. Finding balance between independence and connection
You want to support your child fostering interdependence. His or her support system should include his family of origin, but also new friends, college... It might be hard to let go of being the only one or main one protecting and supporting your child.
How do you think you might feel about your children leaving the house?
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