Boo-hoo not yahoo: College parents discuss empty-nest syndrome
It would make sense that parents who are used to years of abuse from ornery teenagers – picking up dirty sweat socks, arguing over curfews, cringing from loud music – would throw a party the minute their child left for college.That’s not the case.Thursday night, members of the Stonecroft Ministries met at the Ramada in Glenwood to have dinner and discuss what is commonly referred to as “empty nest syndrome.”When children graduate high school and finally leave home, parents often feel empty, depressed and purposeless. After devoting themselves to their children day and night for 18 years, many parents don’t know what to do with themselves.It’s a difficult time because parents miss their children but also understand they need the freedom to live their own life.”Sometimes I find myself crying while I vacuum,” said Mary Benson, who is a kindergarten teacher at Glenwood Elementary and has two children in college. “It’s hard to see them go so far especially when you’re so close.”Patty Schaffner, of New Castle, who works at YouthZone and is also a mother, offered humorous antidotes to help mothers understand their child’s quest for independence.”We need to wake up and smell the coffee and realize all the college student really wants is space,” said Schaffner. “They want us to help them move, then they want us to leave and they don’t want us to call for two weeks.”The audience laughed and nodded their heads.”We must remember they need to do it on their own,” Schaffner said. “Independence is healthy.”Before a child leaves for college, parents should make sure they know a couple of basic life tools, Schaffner said.They should know how to budget their expenses, balance a check book, basic car maintenance and how to do their laundry.Parents should understand they will feel lonely but need to find something else to occupy their time, Schaffner said.”What makes it easier for me is watching my daughter succeed where she’s at,” Benson said. “You’ll notice that, too, Martha.”Martha Moore will send her daughter off to college in less than two weeks. Several times during the dinner, Moore got teary-eyed as she thought about her daughter’s departure.”I anticipate one of the most difficult things for me to do will be suppressing the need to call her,” said Moore. “I’m just used to talking to her every day.”Lonzie Symonette, author of several religious and philosophical texts, spoke at the dinner to remind potential empty-nesters that loneliness can be overcome as long as the Lord remains in their heart.”Sometimes when the nest is empty you feel like the pump is gone,” said Symonette. “But it’s just changing.”Moore knows her daughter needs space and is excited to see her excel in school. She will keep herself busy with her son, who is a junior, and various other activities.”I guess I’m just more concerned about me than about her,” Moore said. “She’s going to do great.”Contact Ivy Vogel: 945-8515, ext. firstname.lastname@example.org
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