Letting go can be an emotionally turbulent experience for mom and dad, who must learn to step away from active parenting roles. Here's how to mourn constructively and embrace a new their independence.
- Step 1: Avoid calling your children incessantly or visiting unannounced. Let them tell you how much space they need and abide by it. Remember, you've already done your job.
- Step 2: Reclaim your identity. Set aside time to get reacquainted with activities you enjoyed. Sign up for Spanish classes or go antiquing. Make new social connections that revolve around you!
- FACT: The term "helicopter parent" -- those moms and dads who hover suffocatingly near their children, never willing to let go -- was coined in the early 1990s.
- Step 3: Set time aside for your loved ones, especially your significant other. For years, kids have been the focus of your relationship, but now it's time to explore this childless uncharted territory.
- TIP: Make a list of the things you want to do. Use your alone time to finally finish that book or paint a still life, but above all, enjoy the peace and quiet -- you've earned it.
- TIP: Seek out a professional counselor if your feelings of sadness and hopelessness have lasted longer than six months. This could be a sign of clinical depression.
- Step 4: Take stock of your strengths and skills. Are you an arts-and-crafts person? Good with numbers? Try putting your talents to good use by volunteering in churches, schools, or nursing homes in your community.
- Step 5: Accept that's it's normal to feel a sense of loss as kids get older. Amid your feelings of sadness and confusion, remember that this is what you set out to do and you've fulfilled your job. Cry if you must, but acknowledge that your role has shifted.