Contributed by Kristin Martin,RP® Just recently, I moved my youngest daughter into her new dorm at Grand Canyon University. What an experience! We packed her things, loaded the cars and headed to the school. There we had a line of cars to follow. They were very organized though and told us exactly where to go. When we arrived at the dorm, there were volunteers who came and took all our boxes to the dorm. I went and parked the car and met my daughter at the dorm. We then just had to unpack her things. It was a moment of mixed emotions for me and her.
I will miss her greatly, but at the same time I am ready to let her go and help her spread her wings. My empty nest will be a new change for me. Although, it will not be completely empty because my 24 year old daughter, who graduated from ASU in May, still lives at home. However, she has her own life already. She is constantly working, socializing and exercising and she is hardly ever at home. I feel ready to enter into this new season of change, but I am a little scared, anxious, sad and happy at the same time.
An empty nest brings some freedom and challenges for parents and the child to overcome and work through. This is an important time to be both supportive of your child and adjust to your new change of life. As parents, we tend to have a protective side as part of our nature. We need to learn how to listen and consult rather than problem solve. Let them figure out how to independently work through new challenges they may face day to day. Treat them as responsible adults and show that we trust their judgment. Of course, there are the times when you will need to step in, when it affects your child’s physical or mental health. Just remember, you have given your time raising them to the best of your ability. Now, give them the opportunity to shine and make it on their own.
I am already thinking about some new hobbies: trying to spend more time with friends, exercising, volunteering in my community, taking an art or scrapbooking class or even taking a continuing education class. Also, I am looking forward to spending time alone since most of my adult life has been all about my girls. I am a single parent, so I spent most of my time trying to be the perfect mother and father to my kids by putting them first. This actually leaves me excited to be able to explore new things to enjoy. I know that this will not be easy but I will stay focused and positive to get through it. I know that I have my family, friends and church to help.
Every parent who is experiencing this ‘empty nest syndrome’ needs to remember that change does not necessarily mean that you are losing something; it is an opportunity for growth. Just remember to take it one step at a time and enjoy the journey.