Empty Nesters: How Parents Cope

The Wall Street Journal: “When a child leaves for college, parents have the happiness of seeing their son or daughter mature and start off on an independent life. They also miss constant connection, fret about their child’s well-being, and worry about the way the relationship may change.Esther Boykin, a licensed marriage and family therapist in Washington, D.C., says that empty nesters may experience a type of grief—for the loss of the relationship as it was.”

She explains: “Parents experience an ambiguous loss, or a loss that doesn’t really look like loss. Their child is typically just a few hours or a short plane ride away, so they haven’t lost them. Yet the emotional experience of their absence can feel incredibly profound and permanent. This person whom you have centered your life around for 18 years is no longer around on a daily basis and is loosening the connection that had been all encompassing.”

“The greatest challenge for parents is that they know that the goal of good parenting is to a raise self-sufficient, independent adult, but the realization of that goal creates a deep sense of loss that can be confusing. It’s like realizing that you did an awesome job and the reward is that the person you love most is leaving you for good.”