Our articles on college and depression have concentrated on students to this point. For our last article, we feel it is also important to touch on the problems faced by parents when their children leave home. The depression that parents can experience when their children leave is usually called empty nest syndrome.
This phenomenon often hits mothers the hardest, but it can also be a problem for fathers. Once parents start a family, decisions and plans often revolve around their children. With that being the case, it is natural that there are feelings of loss and sadness when children are no longer around every day. There is also the question of what to do with the free time that had previously been spent taking care of one’s children.
These feelings can take time to overcome, but there are ways to be proactive to deal with this transition. If you are dealing with empty nest issues, here are some things you can try:
- Reconnect with old hobbies, interests, and service activities that you may not have had time for in the past. Doing something fulfilling with your free time is often helpful for those with empty nest syndrome.
- Use texts, calls, Skype, etc. to stay connected and keep up with what your child is doing. This can be a great way to help both the parents and the child as you all go through a major transition. On the flip side, knowing their parents are there for them and supporting them is important for college students as they deal with the stresses of college.
- Make use of your friends and family as a support group. Reinvest in friendships that you may not have had much time for in recent years.
- In a more immediate sphere, this can be a time for you to become closer with your spouse.
These are all ways that you can try to turn this situation into something positive. If you have persistent feelings of depression, though, we recommend you seek out a qualified therapist or an ACEP certified EP practitioner.