I'm Sad My Child Moved Out — Here's How I'm Coping
After almost 20 years of seeing my child every day, my son moved out. There are periods I don't see or speak to him at all. This separation has brought an unexpected sense of loss. Of course, as a parent, you hope there will be a day when your children complete their transition into well-adjusted adulthood and have the confidence and capability to head on out into the world and flourish. But through talking to other parents, I have found that this sense of loss is common when you are going through an "empty nest."
And through my journey, I have found ways that are making this period of adjustment easier and wanted to share these with every parent who has experienced, or will experience, a child leaving home at some stage:
1. Don't suppress emotions.
I observe my emotions, and the physical sensations that arise with them, without being overwhelmed. See if you can sit and just be with your emotions: watching them, breathing into them, with kindness, compassion, and curiosity. Don't resist your feelings. Emotions are temporary, and you won't always feel sad, but pushing them away could be laying the foundation for future issues.
2. Be honest with those around you about how you're feeling.
I talk to my husband and my friends with similarly aged children. It's reassuring to know that I'm not alone in feeling this way. In fact, "empty nest syndrome" is very common—and being able to talk it out with others going through the same emotions is highly beneficial.
3. Look for the positives.
Children do take a lot of time, energy, and space—and when they leave, you get that back. Our fridge no longer empties the minute the groceries are unpacked, and the laundry basket no longer fills up at such an alarming rate. Even our bills have reduced, especially our water bill. There is less cleaning and tidying to do, and I am not ending each day completely depleted. While I do miss my child not being around the house, having these small positives does help.
4. Start a new hobby.
I just bought an acoustic guitar. I have always wanted to learn but never felt I had the time. I want to rediscover the things I used to love to do, as well as find new hobbies and interests. I have poured my energy into raising a child and lost myself somewhere in the process. I now want to rediscover who I was before I was someone's mom.
5. Celebrate your success.
It's important to remember that if your child has moved out, it's likely because you have done your job as a parent right. I have created and raised a human being who is so resourceful, well balanced, and comfortable with who they are, they are able to fly out into the world. I am confident they have the skills they need to thrive, and that's no small feat.
6. Communicate and plan.
Although it's not fair on my son to tell him how upset I have been at his leaving, we do communicate regularly. With Skype, mobile phones, and social networking, staying in touch has never been easier. Yes, it's not the same as a face-to-face conversation, but at least I know he is happy and safe. We also plan to get together when we can. When I'm not working, I can drive over and meet him on his lunch hour.
7. Be happy.
Your attitude is a choice. And while I know how important it is to feel my sadness, I also know that at the end of the day, I can choose to be happy for my son's and my life. I choose to be excited about how my life will continue to develop and grow!