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The Kids Are Leaving For College. Now What?


Parent Coach for Moms of Teens: Fern Weis

It’s exciting for the kids when they go off to college. Is your excitement mixed with sadness and loss? Maybe some nostalgia?

I’ve been through it twice. And then my daughter lived overseas for 10 years! I was so grateful to have a job to keep my mind off their absence. You do get used to, though; at least I did.

You Will Miss Your Kids:

“We, parents, do this until we draw our last breath.”

Why does it hurt? Whatever your responsibilities (job, family, parents, volunteering, etc.), most of your decisions over the past 18 years have factored in your children in some way.

All of a sudden you can’t remember all the annoying things they’ve done, the chores they didn’t do, and how much you worried. All you know is that you’ll miss them, that they are moving on to something new, and you really can’t go there with them. This is separation anxiety for parents! (Take a look at the poem by Kahlil Gibran, Your Children Are Not Your Children. It says it all.)

Of course, you’ll miss them, and worry about them. We, parents, do this until we draw our last breath. And believe it or not, you can have a life, joy, and satisfaction after they move out. There are actually empty-nesters who smile!

Who Were You Before You Had Kids?

Routines help. You can fill your time with more of those AND have an adventure of your own. Your kids aren’t the only ones with an opportunity to explore themselves and the world!

Who were you before you had kids? What dreams did you have?

It’s not enough to think about it. What can you, will you do to make it happen? How long will you wallow?

Here’s a tip for you. Consider the idea of take hold and let go. We all say, “I need to let go of XYZ mindset.” If only it were that easy. You see, your brain will not let go of a thought until it has one to replace it with.

Nature abhors a vacuum. What new thought, belief, or activity will you take hold of, and use to replace what doesn’t support you anymore? This is the critical step to moving forward.

You Don’t Have To Plan It All Out:

This time is a transition for your child and for you. They see opportunity and adventure while you may see sadness and losing your identity. Your role as a mother and a woman is changing.

“Keep the big picture in mind as you take one step and then another.”

Get excited! What have you put on hold? What energizes and motivates you? This could be the time to take a class (I loved anthropology), start a business, become an eco-warrior or get involved in politics. Let the ideas percolate and see what jumps out at you. This is what you take hold of.

You don’t have to plan it all out; you’ll get stuck in the details and maybe not start at all. Keep the big picture in mind as you take one step and then another. You have time to explore, test, continue, or choose another path. This is your time to rediscover you and your purpose, outside of being a mom.

Then, when you talk to your college kid, you can both share your adventures. And your child will be proud of you and the new life you’re creating.


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Fern Weis

About the Author:

Fern Weis is a Parent Empowerment Coach for Moms of Teens and a Family Recovery Coach. She’s also a wife, former middle school teacher, and the parent of two adult children who taught her more about herself than she ever could have imagined.  

Fern partners with moms of teens and young adults, privately and in groups. She helps them grow their confidence to build strong relationships and emotionally healthier kids who become successful adults. She knows first-hand that when parents do the work, the possibilities for change are limitless; that it’s never too late to start; and you don’t have to do it alone. Learn more about Fern at www.fernweis.com.