|Cliché:||Parting is such sweet sorrow.|
|POCS Reality:||With planning, parents can prepare for their empty nest.|
If you recently left your student’s dorm room on College Move-In Day, you may be suffering from what I call Parent-Student Separation Anxiety. That’s an overwhelming feeling of worry, fear, and loneliness that flood parental hearts like Hurricane Irene’s storm-fed waters submerge the shores.
The rush of emotions clash with Mom’s and Dads’ thoughts about a parenting job well-done; they put their child on the college road to become an independent, self-supporting adult.
Then there’s the taking on of the student’s feelings, an empathic parental ability. Mothers and fathers may think back to when their role was reversed and they were the 18 year-olds moving on from their parents’ home.
Here’s how one mom said goodbye to her college freshman and comments for how other parents journeyed along their student’s rite of passage:
POCSmom’s Insight: Parents come of age also, as they watch their children enter college as blossoming adults. The new challenge is two-fold: adjust to the empty nest and become an on-call parent. These tips may help:
Empty nest fillers
- Parents can take on a new hobby, sign up for a new class (check out low cost courses offered by local libraries, school district adult education centers, local colleges), join a new group.
- Enjoy reliving the past. Think back to B.C. (before children). What would you like to do again?
- Network with other POCS. You never know what pearls of wisdom may drop from a fellow parent of a college student.
Long distance parenting skills
- Establish regular communication for parents to stay in the loop and students to remember their roots.
- Listen more, talk less to get your updates.
- Read between the lines of communication. Is your student asking for advice or just venting? Is his silence about details a call for help or an assertion of independence?
Don’t forget others populating the rest of your empty nest. The student’s siblings and pets may also have their own separation anxiety. They may need new activities and more attention. The bonus is more quality time with your other children before they morph into adults and go to college.
After adjusting to your empty nest, get ready to see your student, again. They can come home and you can go visit. Then prepare for another bout of Parent-Student Separation Anxiety.
*POCS: Parent Of a College Student