Being a first-time parent can be one of the most rewarding and fulfilling experiences of your life, but that doesn’t mean it is smooth sailing. From the moment your child is born, you hold them in your arms, feed them, nurture them and watch them grow. But what happens once your child is ready to leave for school or adulthood?
Most parents will typically feel sad, as they adjust to having their time spent with their child cut short/reduced. But there are parents who may not be able to cope, and this can have a negative impact on their life such as experiencing a profound loss of purpose or depression. Parents who feel overwhelmed and deeply saddened by their child moving out of the home might be experiencing ‘Empty nest syndrome’.
It is a feeling of loneliness parents feel when their child leave the “nest”. The same goes when the child moves out to live with their spouse after marriage. Stay at home parents may be especially vulnerable and even more so if they are dealing with other stressful life events such as loss of a spouse to death or divorce or is a retiree, where it can leave a void in their life. There are few ways to cope with the changes in your life:
Having to watch your child leave is not an easy emotion to deal with. As a parent, you have been accustomed to seeing and interacting with your child almost on an everyday basis. However, on the bright side you can be assured that you have done a good job of raising them well and prepare them for life ahead. It is a normal, healthy event that every parent will go through. Soak in the feeling of satisfaction that your child is venturing out and starting their own successful life.
The days where it was once filled with activities with your child will no longer be the same. Sharing laughter and asking about their day at school or work will lessen. Getting to see them and eating together as a family will be less frequent. This is the time where you will have to think about yourself. Pick up your old hobbies or join a new social group such as volunteering at community centres. Re-look at your bucket list and fulfil that dream of yours can be incredibly helpful during the difficult transitions period. Time and energy that you directed toward your child can now be spent on different areas of your life.
Give yourself time to adjust
There are all kinds of worries when your child is away, not knowing how they are. Are they safe? Have they eaten? The good thing about today’s world is the advancement of technologies. You can easily call, text message or video call to keep in contact when you miss them. This can reduce the loneliness and help you get adjusted to life without them gradually.
The emotional connection that we have built with our child need not necessarily severed it completely, but it is important for us to develop the ability to be happy with our own selves. Look at your empty nest as the symbol of your accomplishment in raising your child as a capable and amazing adult, and as an opportunity to rediscover and reconnect with yourselves, your partner or the community.
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