All grown up and gone for good? Advice on empty-nest syndrome

August 30, 2012

(Medical Xpress)—Your high school graduate is off to college to embark on a newly independent life. But they're not the only one making a transition: parents too face emotional and lifestyle adjustments. With advice on empty-nest syndrome and the college transition, NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital physicians offer expert tips for parents and children on topics including redecorating your child's room, credit cards, keeping in touch and more.

"For your college-bound child, the goal is transitioning them into greater independence and responsibility. If you're a so-called 'helicopter parent' who micromanages your child's life, now's the time to land," says Dr. Karen Soren, director of adolescent health services at NewYork-Presbyterian/Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital and associate clinical professor of pediatrics and public health at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. "Even before they go away, give your child more freedom, while your direct oversight is still possible."

"It's normal to experience some sense of sadness or loss when your child goes away for college. It's also common for children to feel homesick even though they may have been excited to go away to college," says Dr. John Walkup, director of child and adolescent psychiatry at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center. "Parents should spend more time with each other and with friends, and when they get that homesick call from their child, parents should encourage them to get involved in campus activities. Your child should know that you will always be there to listen, but that it is important to make new friends and acclimate to this new environment."

Drs. Walkup and Soren offer more tips on making the college transition easier:

Keep in touch, but don't overdo it. When your child goes away to school, it may be an opportunity to develop a different kind of relationship. Recognize that their new independence is an important step.

The Sunday night phone call is no longer the norm. Intermittent cell phone calls, text messages and e-mails are now common.

Children appreciate a space of their own when they come home to visit. Try to keep your child's room intact for awhile. Parents often redecorate and reclaim some space, but ask your child first. See if you can give them another space to call their own.

Educate yourself on the school's policies toward drinking and other rules. Talk to your about their responsibilities and their safety. Problems like binge drinking start as early as the first weeks of school.

Talk to your child about money. Come to an understanding about who is paying for tuition, books, clothing, travel, phone, etc. Discuss whether they will take a part-time job or use a credit card (credit card companies aggressively market to students).

Read everything that the school sends you. Stay informed. And, if there's a ' visiting day, go.

If parent or child has prolonged difficulty adjusting, they should seek professional evaluation.

Explore further: Making the grade: Tips on how parents can help make homework time more productive

Related Stories

Making the grade: Tips on how parents can help make homework time more productive

August 14, 2012
Homework may be the last thing your child wants to do, but a Kansas State University education expert says encouraging the habit of homework is important.

Technology, close parental relationships are changing how young people transition to college

August 5, 2011
It’s orientation for Temple University’s incoming freshmen, and both students and their parents are coming to terms with the reality of their impending separation.

Eyes are windows to more than a child's soul

September 1, 2011
Nearly 80 percent of what children learn during their first 12 years is through their vision. Though vision problems may seem easy to identify, they actually can be difficult for parents to discern. Still, parents need to ...

Recommended for you

Schizophrenia drug development may be 'de-risked' with new research tool

November 22, 2017
Researchers at Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) and the New York State Psychiatric Institute (NYSPI) have identified biomarkers that can aid in the development of better treatments for schizophrenia.

Study finds infection and schizophrenia symptom link

November 22, 2017
If a mother's immune system is activated by infection during pregnancy, it could result in critical cognitive deficits linked to schizophrenia in her offspring, a University of Otago study has revealed.

Self-harm, suicide attempts climb among US girls, study says

November 21, 2017
Attempted suicides, drug overdoses, cutting and other types of self-injury have increased substantially in U.S. girls, a 15-year study of emergency room visits found.

Car, stroller, juice: Babies understand when words are related

November 20, 2017
The meaning behind infants' screeches, squeals and wails may frustrate and confound sleep-deprived new parents. But at an age when babies cannot yet speak to us in words, they are already avid students of language.

Simple EKG can determine whether patient has depression or bipolar disorder

November 20, 2017
A groundbreaking Loyola Medicine study suggests that a simple 15-minute electrocardiogram could help a physician determine whether a patient has major depression or bipolar disorder.

Non-fearful social withdrawal linked positively to creativity

November 20, 2017
Everyone needs an occasional break from the social ramble, though spending too much time alone can be unhealthy and there is growing evidence that the psychosocial effects of too much solitude can last a lifetime.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.