When your children are little, it is easy to be wrapped up in the joy of being their parent and knowing that you are the center of their world and they are the center of yours. As they become teens, they begin to pull away and seek independence in preparation for heading out on their own. This can leave a parent feeling unwanted, unneeded and without a purpose. Emotions can run high and you could end up feeling alone and falling into the trap of using emotions to tie your children to you even if you know independence is the best thing for them. Here are eight tips to keep in mind as you head into this emotionally taxing time: Overcome the Empty Nest Blues
1. Normalize. It’s normal to feel sad, lost, confused, excited and so much more when your children begin to leave home. Try to resist the urge to judge your reactions.
2. Use your support system. Talking about it with others can help you see outside of the emotions that you are coping with.
3. Delegate. If you are the parent who takes care of everything, begin delegating tasks to your children. This will teach them life skills, help them to be less dependent on you and help you to get used to not doing so much.
4. Find things to do. Prepare yourself by starting or restarting hobbies or groups. This gives you options other than being a parent to bring meaning to who you are.
5. Evaluate your marriage. If you are married or in a relationship, this is a good time to reacquaint yourselves. Remind yourselves that you are a couple not just parents and begin planning how to spend this time together. An Empty Nest Forced Us To Be A Couple Again
6. Avoid the guilt trip. Refrain from using guilt to get your children to spend time or talk with you. Tell them what your needs are and ask for their time, keeping in mind that there will be times that they want to see their friends more than they want to hang out with their parents. This is just normal development, not rejection.
7. Give children space. As difficult as it may be to allow your children this time of independence. They may make mistakes without you there to guide them, but they will also learn from those mistakes. They will always be your children and holding onto them too tightly may only encourage them to go further away.
8. Plan. Set times to call, text or Skype with your children when they leave so that you know when to expect contact with them. This can alleviate some anxieties of not knowing when or if they’ll contact you.
It is hard to let your children grow up and to trust that they’ll be okay without your immediate guidance and care. It can also be rewarding to see them succeed in life and exciting to rediscover your own independence. Let yourself cry, let yourself miss them, and also let them go. If there is a solid foundation in your relationship, they will return and it will feel even better because they will be doing it because they want to, not out of obligation. You have given them so much of yourself over the years. Now, you can be their parent and have more freedom to pursue your own adventures. It can be the best of both worlds.