Coping With An Empty Nest
Orlando Therapist: My Tips For Parents
Orlando marriage therapists, couples counselors and counselors for women at GroundWork Counseling understand that facing an empty nest can lead to sadness, depression, and grief, as well as anxiety and uncertainty about the future. Psychologists in Orlando define the symptoms of Empty Nest Syndrome as the loneliness, depression, and grief that some parents, especially women, feel after their children have moved out of the house. Family therapist and couples counselor at GroundWork Counseling in Orlando shares the following:
Congratulations, your youngest child is now a college freshman! You’ve bought them all the necessities for their college dorm room or apartment. You’ve taken them to the dorm room/apartment, settled them in and returned home. Now what? Hello empty nest!
- This is a significant milestone in the family’s life cycle. Therefore it brings with it challenges and opportunities for growth. Take a deep breath. You will get through this too, just like you did when the baby was first born, sleepless nights with teething pains, the first day of kindergarten and all the steps in between that led to this point.
- For your student to be able to live away from home successfully, they need to know that YOU are doing OK, that YOU can cope. (This is ironic, because usually as parents we worry about our kids being able to handle being alone.) They need to know that you are OK so they are free to concentrate on the job at hand, becoming an independent adult. Therefore you have to show them you are handling the transition well.
- If you are not having trouble adjusting, get help. Talk to your spouse/partner. Talk to your friends. Talk to your therapist, or seek counseling. But keep that burden away from your college student – they have enough to deal with.
- The big question sometimes becomes: Who are you now that you are not someone’s mom or dad? The answer is that you are STILL someone’s mom or dad. The good news is that you have been such a good parent that your child is confident enough to leave home, and has the skills to make it on their own in a new environment. You are STILL needed for love and support. That part has not changed at all.
- Now that you do not have your student living with you, take the time to say goodbye to your role as the day-to-day parent. Start by congratulating yourself on doing a good job in raising your student to this point. It was a lot of hard work. It took many years. At times you felt hopeless and angry. But you did it. Your student is pursuing higher education. They have the grades to get accepted into a college or university. They have the confidence and courage to tackle this new phase of their life. Yes, you miss the daily care-taking, the laundry, the nagging about cleaning up the room, seeing your beloved kid every day. And yes, you are proud that you have been a successful parent.
- Now that your time is not occupied feeding and raising your child, what are you going to do with yourself? This is an excellent question. Look at this stage of your life as a new beginning for yourself. Your child is off growing and having new experiences. You can too!
- Reconnect with your partner or spouse. Chances are you have been busy with family activities this summer. This is the time to check out that new or favorite restaurant, to take that bike ride together, to sleep in on the weekend with privacy, to take a class in ballroom dancing together, to attend a fundraiser together, volunteer together. Focus on each other as partners. Talk about each other, not about schedules and logistics. Get to know each other how you are today, not how you were when you first got together. Talk about your dreams for your future together, your bucket lists, your regrets, what you want to leave as your legacy, how you want to benefit your community…
- Catch up with friends. Have lunch or dinner with them.
- Catch up with long-postponed projects or trips. What have you been postponing doing or visiting? Do you want to change careers? Do you want to pursue your education? Is there a hobby you would like to pursue, like painting, gardening or playing the piano? Have you been meaning to join a gym or take yoga classes? Make a plan to follow your dreams and ambitions.
- You are always going to be a parent. You will always be needed by your child; just “how” you are needed will change. Use this time to develop your identity separate from your identity as a parent. Now you have the time and energy to do it. Think about your dreams, and pursue them. What is it that makes you happy? Go and get it!
Orlando family therapist, couples counselor, and women’s counselor at GroundWork Counseling, note that empty nest syndrome can have a significant effect on parent’s mental and physical health and it can greatly affect the marital relationship as parents find it difficult to have no children in the home. Psychologists in Orlando state that this transition can be very difficult for parents, especially for women who have stayed at home and now find themselves searching for a sense of purpose. Compassionate, understanding therapists and counselors at GroundWork Counseling in Orlando are here to help you work through your feelings and concerns.