My niece is currently going through the process of applying to university, so it won’t be long before she goes off to start an independent life. All of us, whether parents or aunts, wonder where the time has gone when this happens! Obviously it is harder for parents when their child leaves home, so here are some tips to help you cope with this change.
1. Done Your Job Well
First of all, give yourself the credit you deserve. You’ve coped with the difficult job of bringing up a child. Doing this job well, as you doubtless have, means teaching them the skills they need to become an independent adult – and allowing them the opportunity to leave and start their new life.
2. Their Own Life
It must be difficult for any parent to stop being a parent. However, once your child leaves home, it’s important to let them lead their own life. You may not agree with all their choices, but as an adult they have a right to make those choices. So be tactful and don’t interfere in their life.
3. New Use for Their Room
It may be tempting to leave their room exactly as they left it. Certainly, as students they may want to come home in the holidays. Equally, they may have other plans, or may leave home for good. Think about finding a new purpose for their room – an office or workroom can do double duty as a guest room when they visit.
4. Don’t Smother Them
Most parents will probably be tempted to check up on their children every five minutes (except for those who were cheering as they closed the door!). Don’t smother them with contact though, as that will be profoundly annoying. Keep in contact but don’t make it excessive.
When a child leaves home, let them take responsibility for their own life, or you will never truly move on in your own mind to the next stage of yours. Besides, if they are old enough to leave home, they are old enough to make their decisions, sort out their mistakes and learn from the consequences.
Make sure that you have plenty of other interests already in place before your child leaves home. You are not just a parent, you are a person, so don’t make your life just about your children. If you do, you will be lost when they leave home.
7. Home from Home …
When your child leaves home, make it clear that they now have their own home (even if it’s just a bedsit) and that they must respect your home. Otherwise you may find that they treat it as an extension of their own (new) home, and that they expect to come and go as they please, help themselves to food and bring their laundry. If any of this is ok by you, fine, but don’t be their servant.
8. Open Door … if Necessary
Of course, hopefully all will go well, but sometimes leaving home doesn’t work out. Let them know that they will be welcome back if they are really in need, or that you will help them out however you can.
Some of you may have already faced this situation, or have it yet to come. How did you feel, are you dreading the day when your child leaves home, and how did your parents react when you left?
Top Photo Credit: Ein_Provinzler_in_Berlin