Blog: When your children leave the nest
As a parent, we spend our time teaching our children to be independent. When they achieve this successfully, sometimes it is difficult to accept. I am so proud of my daughter for graduating from college and recently landing an excellent job that will place her in Texas for her first assignment. However, I must admit I am selfishly a little sad, hoping she would be home for a while longer.
In our mobile modern society, I know this is not uncommon, as many adult children live hundreds or thousands of miles from their parents. Honestly, I should be an expert in this area, as I moved away from home when I was eighteen to go to an out-of-state college. I also married into the military and lived in many wonderful places along the way, never moving back home permanently. I strongly believe things happen for a reason and life evolves into things that are unexpected, yet magnificent nonetheless. Moving away from family and friends physically did not mean I had to move away emotionally. Often, the heart grows stronger with some distance and perhaps I will find my daughter’s move, however painful or exciting, has something to teach me, as well.
So, with every new adventure, I reach out to family and friends for some advice on this new chapter. Here are a few survival tips if you have children that have moved away from home:
Set aside time and money to travel
I have to admit, I am really looking forward to visiting my daughter in Texas, especially in the cold winter months. We learn so much by travelling, and sharing it with your loved ones only makes it better. Plan as many trips and vacations together as possible. Try to find shared interests like hiking, golfing, tennis, going to see a Broadway show, getting your nails done or anything you enjoy doing together.
Don’t give advice
As my children will attest, this is a tough one. Resist the urge to give advice, even when requested. Receiving guidance from a parent can make adults feel like helpless children again. They tend to rebel against this unpleasant feeling by pulling away from their parent. Simply encourage them and try to refrain from giving guidance when unwarranted.
Be respectful and positive
Make your respect for your grown kids a recurring theme of your relationship. One way to show respect is to shower your grown kids with praise, just as you did when they were young. Search for any excuse to offer a compliment. Make “I’m proud of you” and “You handled that very well” your words of wisdom.
A friend of mine calls her son every day on her commute to work. Others set aside a weekly time to check up. This may work for you or you may find less “intrusive” options that tend to work well with the younger generation like texts, Skype, email and social media.
Be your own person
Last but not least, this is probably the most important tip. This is your time to focus on yourself and perhaps your spouse/significant other. Now, you have the time to explore hobbies, travel, volunteer, spend time with friends, etc. Not only will this make you more interesting, but your kids will appreciate it as well. Life is an exploration and new experiences exist around every corner. Embrace this time.
Onward and upward on the next flight to Texas….
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About the Author
Lisa O’Neil, health enews contributor, serves as Director of Public Affairs-Central Region for Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital, Advocate BroMenn Medical Center and Advocate Eureka Hospital. She enjoys spending time with her husband, three children and mini-golden doodle. In her spare time, you will most likely find her on the tennis court or on the back of her husband’s Harley, cruising the many scenic routes around the northwest suburbs.