How to hold it together when your child flies the nest

7 September 2016

It can be difficult for students moving away from home to go to university but it can equally 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 to deal with empty nest syndrome.

students arriving at the university with their parent

1. Prepare them to fly the nest

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

2. 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.3.

3. It’s time for you

Remember the times before you had children, well now they’re back (well not totally they will still call and need money at the drop of a hat) but now you can get some ‘you’ time back.

4. 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 and now they’ve flown the nest. Your child will need time to adjust to university life, and will be busy with fresher’s, meeting new friends and touring their new city so 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.

5. Keep in touch

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

6. 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 home for the first time to go to University or to move out.

7. 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.