Empty Nest Article

Our Centre parents who bring their last child to college often ask about resources to deal with the experience commonly known as, "the empty nest". Given the differences in family structure, communication patterns, and methods of dealing with other life transitions, it is challenging to offer up general recommendations. However, the following suggestions, gleaned from popular literature, professional publications, and the shared experiences of other parents, might be useful to our Centre parents.

Acknowledge that change is unsettling, and that having some difficult emotions is a part of the process. It is normal to feel a true sense of loss whenever your family is experiencing a time of change.

Remind yourself that your son or daughter continues to need you in so many ways, and that providing each other support is a basic part of the definition of family.

Remember that you are actually in an intermittent "empty nest", that your student will likely be in and out of the house for some time to come. You don't have to totally adjust to their being gone at this time. The holiday break in December comes faster than you may think!

Reflect on what you have been wanting to do in recent months, or even years, that you haven't had time to do. Set a goal to do that. If you are married, you may have been realizing that you have needed and/or wanted more "couple time". Or, you may have longed for some time to read more for pleasure or work on your physical health. Think about focusing on a positive that, when accomplished, will bring you joy and satisfaction.

If you miss terribly being around children and young people, meet that need in another way - by volunteering, or spending time with other family or community young people.

If you are having other significant life changes at this time as well, such as loss of a job, family death, or divorce, you may want to seek extra support for yourself, including counseling. A build-up of stressors of life changes in a short amount of time can feel overwhelming.

Treasure those moments when you experience the "emerging adult" in your college student, and rejoice that you have contributed to this person who is beginning to make sound decisions and actually making the world a better place. Being a proud and thankful parent at this stage of your child's development is one great way to fill that "empty nest".

Finally, a quote from a book we regularly recommend to parents at Parent Orientation, Letting Go: A Parent's Guide to Understanding the College Years, by Karen Coburn and Madge Treeger, "Young men and women ask for little more at this time than a steady and rooted home base to return to, just as they had many years ago when they hurried back from their adventures across the playground to find Mom and Dad sitting on the park bench where they left them. To provide this sanctuary to the often confusing dynamics of separation and to the long journey the freshman has begun."


—Kathy L. Miles, Director of Counseling Services

Chinese:
空巢 我们Centre的家长通常寻求资源来解决“空巢”问题当他们挥手送走自己的孩子之后。由于家庭结构,交流方式,和处理生活转变的不同,其实是很难给出适合于所有人的推荐的。但是,下面从流行文学,专业文献,和之前家长的经验得出来的建议,可以帮助我们Centre的家长: 明白变化是不可知的,感到困难是其中的一部分。当你的家庭发生变化的时候,感觉迷失是很正常的感觉。 提醒自己你的孩子仍然在各个方面需要你,给孩子提供帮助是定义家的基本部分。 记住你其实处于间歇性的“空巢”中,即你的孩子将来很有可能反反复复的回家离家。你不需要这一次就完全调整好。 想一想你这几个月甚至这几年想做却一直没有机会做的事情。制定一个目标然后完成它。如果你结婚了,你可能意识到你一直需要和想要更多的“二人世界”。或者你一直希望有更多的时间来读书或者提高身体素质。专注于具有积极意义的一面,当你完成之后,它会给你带来快乐和满足。 如果你真的非常想念和孩子和年轻人在一起的感觉,你可以通过其他渠道活得 - 通过做义工,花更多的时间和家里的其它年轻人在一起。 如果你同时还有其他重要的人生改变,例如失业,亲人离世,或者离婚,你可能需要外界的帮助,包括心理咨询。短时间的各种压力的堆积可以让你感觉不知所措。 珍惜你孩子“成为成年人”的时光,并且为你能够为这个能做出正确决定并且使世界变成更好的年轻人做出贡献而感到欣慰。在你孩子成长阶段,做一个骄傲又充满感激之心的父母能够帮助你在“空巢期”感到充实。 最后,引用一个我们经常推荐家长阅读的书《让他走:父母指南》,“年轻人在这个时候特别需要一个稳定有归属感的家当他们需要回来时,就如同多年以前,他们匆匆从操场到另一头的冒险回来找当他们离开时坐在椅子上的爸爸妈妈。在这样一个有些迷茫的分离和大一新生开始经历漫长旅程中,为孩子提供一个家的港湾。”

Kathy Miles

Kathy Miles

Director of Counseling Services

Contact Parsons Student Health Center