Slipping through My Fingers: A Parent’s Guide to Empty Nesting

The acceptance letter is on the fridge, and you and your family are probably both dreading and looking forward to the day your child goes off to college. This is a tense time of transition for everyone involved, but it can also be a time of joy and celebration. So, whether you’re struggling or rejoicing, here are few words of wisdom as you look ahead to your new path as an empty nester.

Every Reaction Is Totally Normal.

Crying yourself to sleep at night? Getting nostalgic over baby photos? Ready for your new college student to get the heck out of the house? Can’t wait to have some alone time? Want your child to never leave? – No matter what you are feeling, it’s important to acknowledge it and accept it for what it is without judgment. No matter what you, your spouse, or the other families around you are experiencing, there is no right or wrong reaction; everyone simply feels what they feel.

What To Do Next

Once the dorm room is unpacked and set up, and you drive away, watching your kid waving goodbye in the rearview mirror, you may find yourself reeling at what to do next. Remember that every relationship is different, so your relationship with you child is going to be different than your peers, and how you shape your life after kids needs to reflect what’s best suited for you and your needs.

Many people need time to grieve. This is a normal step for many parents. It is also a time to celebrate that you did it – you raised an upstanding citizen. Now your next step as a parent should be to take care of your needs and continue living your life.

Even if it seems scary, remember that how you behave is still part of you working as a parent. If you take care of your own needs and wellbeing through this transition, your child will learn from and model your resilience. Even if, at this age, they act as if they are too cool for you, they will still notice.