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Empty Nesting 101

The transition to college may be overwhelming, thrilling and even nerve-wracking for your child. Parents often feel exactly the same way.

empty-nest_150While your son or daughter is busy buying new extra-long sheets for their residence hall bed and daydreaming about on-campus events, you may be feeling anxious and gloomy about them leaving home. What you’re experiencing is called Empty Nest Syndrome. And it’s completely normal.

Empty Nest Syndrome is not a clinical diagnosis. It’s a very common phenomenon in which parents experience feelings of sadness and loss when a child leaves home. You may be outwardly encouraging your child to embrace independence, but internally you are concerned they no longer need your daily care.

The good news is that your student’s future classmates all have parents working through the very same emotions. It’s OK to feel sadness, but it’s also important to acknowledge the many benefits of empty nesting—get excited about having some extra time to yourself after 18 years!

To soften the blow of move-in day, read through Grand Canyon University‘s parental guide to empty nesting. We’re here to help you navigate your child’s college debut.GCU_Move_In-181_150

  • Accept the Transition: Do not bury feelings of sadness–face them head-on. Accept that this is not going to be easy, but it is going to happen. Once you acknowledge your own feelings, you’ll be able to move on and get excited for what lies ahead.
  • Help: Your child may want to flex their independence more than ever, but make sure to join in the preparations every once in a while—help them pack; offer to go to the store for dorm room essentials; dole out advice on dealing with a new roommate. Recognize that you’re still needed, just in different ways.
  • Stay Positive: Rather than dwell on their inevitable departure, focus on the excitement you feel for your son or daughter. Going to college is a great accomplishment, and you should feel both pride and eager anticipation for all the things your child will accomplish in the years to come.
  • Plan Ahead: Instead of wallowing, try to embrace all the new changes. Life will certainly be different, but it doesn’t have to be bad. Think about the extra time and energy you’ll have to devote to yourself. Now’s the time to plan for new career opportunities, hobbies you let fall by the wayside and relationships that may need a little extra TLC.
  • Seek Support: If you’re still having a difficult time dealing with an empty nest, don’t be afraid to seek out help. Lean on loved ones for support and find others who have gone through this before.

At Grand Canyon University, parents are an essential part of the campus community. Parent Connection is a great way for parents to stay informed of campus news and engage in campus life. While you may not be around every day, you can still remain an active part of your student’s life.

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