Coping tips for Empty Nesters
For many colleges students across the country, it’s already back-to-school time. And for many parents, that means tearful goodbyes outside the college dormitory. Nurse Rose Melendez, RN, shares her advice for how parents can cope with children leaving the home.
What happens when those feelings of sadness don’t go away?
Nurse Rose: For many parents, a child leaving the home can trigger anxiety and depression, often referred to as “empty nest syndrome.” Mental health experts say that these feelings are completely normal, even if you want your child to be independent.
Why does this happen?
Nurse Rose: Empty nest syndrome may happen because parents:
- Struggle with having no children at home who need care;
- Miss being a part of their child’s everyday life; and
- Worry about their child’s safety and well-being.
How can parents cope with this life change?
Nurse Rose: If you’re sending your child to college, try these tips to help you cope with the transition.
- Accept the timing. Avoid comparing your child’s timeline to your own or expectations. Focus on preparing your child to succeed when he or she leaves home.
- Focus on other children or relationships. Focus on growing your relationships with other children at home, your spouse or close friends.
- Keep in touch. You can text, call, video chat or email with your child to maintain a close relationship.
- Seek support. Talk openly with a close friend, family member, clergy member or other person you trust about your feelings of depression.
- Start a fun project like an old hobby or planning a vacation.
As always, if you continue to feel depressed or notice you are losing sleep, unable to eat or having thoughts of suicide, talk to your doctor or mental health professional.