When Your Teen Leaves Home

Life is about change. It is a new stage when our children grow up and leave to attend college or to move out on their own. Gone are the days when all of our plans centered on them.

But, just because they are eager to leave doesn’t mean that we are eager to see them go. For parents, it means that a journey that began eighteen years ago is coming to an end. So what do we do now?

This is the question that faces many empty-nesters. For so long the purpose of their lives has been tied to their children and they are not prepared for what comes next. Here are some ideas to help you get prepared mentally for this day.

* Teach your children to be independent – The last thing any parent wants to do is cripple their children. Always being there to rescue them keeps them dependent on you and not on themselves. Let them find a summer job, balance a checkbook and take responsibility for chores around the house. When they are out on their own, they will be able to take pride in their accomplishments now.

* Grieve the loss of this chapter of your life – There are many things that happen in life that can feel much like a death. This is one of those things. It is okay to be sad because your babies are all grown up and living their own lives. Take the time to get used to the changes that will come in your life.

* Develop a support system – Talk to friends who are already empty-nesters or who are going through the same transition. Discuss your feelings and what may be over the horizon for both of you.

* Talk to your kids – They may notice that you are feeling down. Let them know how you feel. You may be surprised how your teen will react. What a surprise it will be to hear “thank you” fall from their lips when they refer to all that you have done for them! Believing that you have done well as a parent can aid in feeling good about making this transition in your life.

* Revisit your attitude on life – Now that your teen is leaving, what do you want from life? Redefining your purpose can give you new hope and a fresh outlook on the future.