Blog post

Empty nest syndrome: Advice for parents on how to hold it together when children leave home for university

It can be difficult for students moving away from home to go to university but, equally, it can be tough for parents to adjust to the transition.

Basia Spalek, Professor of Conflict Transformation at the University of Derby, provides some top tips for parents on how to deal with empty nest syndrome.

14 September 2016

Prepare your children

In order for your child to be university ready, you need to take a step back and let them do washing, cooking and look after themselves. This way you will be there to guide them and provide advice before they go it alone.

Talk to each other

This is likely to be the biggest transition for you and your child so talk and tell each other how you feel. It will be good for them to know you will miss them but make sure you’re supportive and positive. Also provide reassurance, let them know there is a permanent base at home if they ever need/ want to return.

It’s time for you

Remember the times before you had children – now they are back. I’m sure they will still call and need money at the drop of a hat but now you can get some ‘you’ time back.

Give it time

As a parent, you’ve looked after them for 18 years through thick and thin; helping with their homework, friends and finances.

Now your child will need time to adjust to university life and they will be busy with fresher’s, meeting new friends and touring their new city. If they don’t call every day, don’t worry. Within a few weeks you will become used to their absence and will probably start to enjoy it.

Keep in touch

Mobile phones and the internet make it far easier to communicate and, with FaceTime, you can even have a virtual tour of their digs and meet some of their friends.

Understand empty nest syndrome

Empty nest syndrome is a feeling of grief and loneliness parents may feel when their children leave home for the first time. Most commonly, it occurs when children leave home for the first time to go to university or move out.

Accept support

Talk to your friends or family who have or are going through the same thing so you can share how you feel and see if they have any tips to help you. If you find that after a few weeks you’re not coping it’s important to get help.

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