Parents spend a tremendous amount of time planning and preparing their children for college, from college tours to trunk parties, it can feel like a part time job. Moms and dads sport the parent wear proudly, but this is the part that gets posted on social media and sent to grandparents. But some may be thinking what now? The dynamic of the family members left in the home changes, and for single moms and dads the absence is undeniable. While this is an exciting time, it must be said that it can also bring on unexpected feelings of loss and sadness, followed by feelings of guilt for feeling sad!
Parents have an opportunity to model how to manage their emotions to their children, for example, not burdening their children with their feelings of loss that could cause them to feel guilty. Parents can also demonstrate healthy transitioning by pursuing new hobbies or doing the activities that parenthood did not leave time for. Parents that were a bit too involved with their children may struggle to reclaim their identity, but this can also be exciting, as we are often not quite the same as we were before we became parents, and can redefine ourselves.
So, in the meantime, before you discover your hidden talent or hobby:
Make time to reconnect with friends and family.
Be intentional to make space for your feelings, crying is fine, just not on the phone with your teen when they are telling you they are having the time of their life (or not).
Journal your feelings of change and loss; reflect on the time passed.
Get out there and live! Whatever your means, find ways to continue having new experiences so that you can offer them in conversation with your child. Believe it or not, adolescents worry their parents will be lonely without them.
If you feel stuck or uninterested in any of the above, seek support and/or talk to a professional. Change is simply hard sometimes.