Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Parent Struggles With Becoming Empty Nester

DEAR HARRIETTE: My son is going to leave for college in a week, after he spent a gap year living at home, working and learning how to code. He’s my only son, and having him out the house will be a huge change for me and my husband. How would you adjust to having your child away from your home for the first time? -- Empty Nester

DEAR EMPTY NESTER: Our job as parents is to prepare our children to leave our homes and live independently; still, letting go remains one of the most challenging experiences for most parents. On one hand, you want to hold them extra close and love them up. On the other, it is your duty to give them the freedom to grow into their adult selves.

Expect high emotions in the first few days after your son leaves. Agree with your husband that you both may be extra sensitive to random things, and this is natural. Choose to fill your time with activities that both of you enjoy. Go out to dinner. Visit with friends. Have a movie night at home where you cuddle up and watch something entertaining.

Schedule your days and weeks so that you fill the space that your son once occupied. This will help you to grow accustomed to a new rhythm in your household. Take it one day at a time. This is no easy adjustment, but you can do it.