Leaving well

If you do your job well as a parent your children will leave home. And you probably won’t like it. I talked about the so called ’empty nest syndrome’ to a group of men and some of them cried when they described how much they missed their kids. There are a couple of ways you can make the transition easier for them and easier for you.

The top one is to realise they probably don’t intend it as a rejection of you, so don’t act offended. You are allowed to say you’ll be a bit sad – “I’ll really miss you” – but don’t act as if what they are doing is bad. Leaving home, as long as they are not tragically young or heading off into a terrible relationship, is a positive and necessary stage in growing up. Realise that some young adults might try and make leaving easier for themselves by being a bit unpleasant and maybe picking arguments – see this as a clumsy way of handling their own uncomfortable emotions around one of the biggest, scariest things they have ever done in their whole life!

Preparing your child to leave home is good for your child, and it’s also good for you. Make it easier for them to go by increasingly making their life at home resemble the world they will have to survive in. Do they know how to do laundry, budget their money and cook a couple meals?

Try and see the positives – your child is growing up. It’s sad to see kids go but they will come back, sometimes with a degree or new additions to the family or even grandchildren. Many parents find their relationships with their young adult children actually improve – the kids become more mature, there is less aggravating friction and some parents actually see more of their kids through the intentional interaction of weekly meals together, than they had when they were living at home.


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