Parental concerns about the first child leaving the nest

Is there anything more difficult than watching your first fledgling child leave the nest? Parents typically suffer more separation anxiety than young adult children. From your perspective, your child was an intimate part of the family and suddenly that time screeched to a halt. It’s not easy to let go of that first child.

The truth is, your child has been finding his own identity and relinquishing his emotional need for you since he became a teen.

Like the mother bird who teaches her little ones to fly, parents spend the first 18 years teaching life skills and life lessons to children. Children begin their own separation from us around the age of 14 or when they reach puberty and see more choices for emotional fulfillment. Sexual identity evolves and with it comes new emotional bonds.

First love brings new life lessons and they understand that mom and dad can’t protect them from misunderstandings, break-ups, and hurt feelings. Young adult children learn to cope without parents because they’re investing in new relationships.

Understanding that you are the one with high separation anxiety may help you cope when your first child leaves the nest. Naturally, circumstances can intensify the anxiety. If the first child is your only child, it’s natural to feel lonely and blue. Seeing your son or daughter enter the military and deploy to another country causes extreme anxiety and worry for their safety.

In situations where we’re powerless to protect our children, it’s easy to submit to living with worry and holding onto it because we fear the unknown. Fortunately, young people have a built in sense of living in the moment and most do not share our fear for their situation.

Seeing a child off to college means a few visits during the year and possibly during the summer. You have something to look forward to as you say good-bye.

The marriage of a child is a tough transition for parents and it’s especially difficult if they move out of state. They’ve already embarked on a new life with a new partner, but these things weigh on a parent’s heart and mind. Though we’re happy for them, we worry about how they’ll make it in life.

Life is not all anxiety and in the hectic pace of today’s world, you may not have a great amount of time for feeling lonely or blue, but if and when you do there are things you can do to cope.

Tips to cope:

Stay in touch with your fledgling. Today’s Internet superhighway makes it easier to keep in touch with sons or daughters, even those deployed to different countries.

Take the time to do something special for yourself. Treat yourself to a new hairstyle or go to a concert. Buy a companion pet, but do something.

Spend more time with your remaining family. They need your support in their growth path and you’ll be seeing them off into the world soon enough.

If time permits, develop friendships with parents in the same situation. Lean on, learn new ways of coping, and draw strength from each other.

Chances are, if your child has gone away to college, he or she will return several times during the year with a ton of laundry. Instead of doing the laundry for your child, take the opportunity to do the laundry together or help fold clothes. An informal catch up chat on the events and activities that your child is involved in while at college will help re-establish family ties.

Finally, see your son or daughter as they are today with all possibilities before them. He or she is now a young adult with concerns and worries on a different scale than when he was a child living in the home. Offer help but don’t force them to accept it. Encourage them on their life path just as you did before they left your nest. They won’t forget your love and support; no matter where life takes them.