Empty Nest

September 18, 2017

Survival tips as children fly off to university

 As hundreds of thousands of first-year students pack their bags to leave for university this year, it can leave a void (or empty nest) and be a very emotional time for both the parents and the children.

There is an “adjustment reaction” when the new reality is not as pleasant as the old one and people adjust to new situations in very different ways. Reactions can vary dramatically from anxiety and stress through to sadness and depression in extreme cases.

 There are many healthy ways to manage the empty nest syndrome. It is important to look at the positive aspects, not solely dwelling on the loss. After all, they are going to university; all of the hard work and years of studying has paid off as they embark on the next stage of their life.

Dr Dimitrios Paschos, Consultant Psychiatrist at Re:Cognition Health offers his top tips  for combatting empty nest syndrome.

  • The absence of a child will present parents with more freedom to pursue hobbies, invest time in yourself and visit friends. You will also be able to take holidays during term time, something you may not have been able to do for 10 years!!
  • Take joy in planning visits to see your child at university as well as when they return home- spend quality time together.
  • Technology and social media make it possible to stay in touch regularly. Skype, facebook, instant messenger, texts and phone calls make instant contact possible. However, be mindful not to stalk them, children (or young adults!) will need their space and won’t want to be bombarded several times a day. Before they leave for university, perhaps discuss how often they would like to be contacted and plan regular calls.
  • Remember that this is a light-hearted loss and not a bereavement, the children are starting their next chapter and so should you!