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New empty nester? Here's how to cope with a child leaving home

New empty nester? Here's how to cope with a child leaving home
New empty nester? Here's how to cope with a child leaving home 02:43

BALTIMORE -- It's the middle of August and the countdown is on for sending your kids off to school in any grade. 

For many - those who are seeing their kids off to college - this time period can be particularly hard. Gearing up to be an "empty nester" is a daunting prospect. 

WJZ talked with Dr. Asha Patton-Smith, a child and adolescent psychiatrist at Kaiser Permanente, about how to cope with empty nest syndrome. 

Dr. Patton-Smith said first of all, it's important for parents to embrace the loss they are experiencing, and to build from there. Maybe it's time to try something new. 

"Now you probably have an apparent more time on your hands," she said. "So try something new. Take up a new hobby or revisit something that you've done in the past." 


The temptation might be there, but don't try to dictate how often you and your child catch up while they're away, Dr. Patton-Smith said. Also, try to take advantage of the ways new technology can let you communicate. 

"Make sure that you're following your child's lead with the amount of outreach he or she wants," she said. "So in other words, allow your child to establish the cadence of communication or news to use technology to connect. There are all kinds of different ways that kids use technology now and make sure that you're up to speed so you can connect in different ways and not just necessarily a traditional phone call."

One big change is the possibility of missing your child's birthday or spending a holiday without them. Dr. Patton-Smith said that means it might just be time to adapt. 

"When college happens sometimes you're not always with your child, so start a new family tradition," she said. "Plan when you can visit your child, when your child is coming to visit you, it's just important to understand that this is a new phase, but an exciting phase, and we all have to adapt and transition."


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