Experts weigh in on how to cope with an empty nest - WSFX - FOX Wilmington, NC

Experts weigh in on how to cope with an empty nest

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For mother of two Terry Smith it felt unnatural when her oldest daughter left home. (Source: KLTV Staff) For mother of two Terry Smith it felt unnatural when her oldest daughter left home. (Source: KLTV Staff)
Empty nest syndrome is not a clinical diagnosis but it's a term for coping with temporary grief and sadness. (Source: KLTV Staff) Empty nest syndrome is not a clinical diagnosis but it's a term for coping with temporary grief and sadness. (Source: KLTV Staff)
Officials say there is no specific time period for how long someone grieves. (Source: KLTV Staff) Officials say there is no specific time period for how long someone grieves. (Source: KLTV Staff)
TYLER, TX (KLTV) -

It's that time of year when students are moving out of their childhood homes and into their college dorm rooms.

This past weekend was move-in weekend for most universities across the nation. As freshman are learning to adjust to college life, parents are learning to adjust with one less member of their household.

For mother of two Terry Smith, it felt unnatural when her oldest daughter left home and moved nearly three hours away for her freshman year at the University of North Texas.

"You live with a child, you take care of a child you do everything for them for 18 years and then they leave you. That's just wrong," Smith said.

Smith says it was an adjustment that took some time to get used to and she did struggle with empty nest syndrome.

"Your family isn't whole anymore. I mean someone is gone so there is a natural grieving period," Smith said.

Clinical Social Worker Laurie Ann Frank says that empty nest syndrome is not a clinical diagnosis but it's a term for coping with temporary grief and sadness.

"When children leave home to go to the military or off to college, or gaining their independence moving out of the house it can be a depressing, sad and happy time for parents”, said Frank.

Frank says its important for parents to realize that the family system is changing and grief is normal. She says during this time, it's important for parents to take care of themselves and set goals for the future.

"What would you like to do after the children leave, is it something productive, something to look forward to," Frank said.

With her two girls out of the house, Smith said she reconnected with old friends.

"It's a whole different dynamic so we've all enjoyed reacquainting ourselves with one another without our children,” Smith said.

While there is no specific time period on how long someone grieves.

Smith says parents should take comfort in knowing they've prepared their child for this new chapter of their lives.

"You raise their children from the moment they're born to be independent and so all the decisions you make as they are growing up is so they can make that step to become independent," Smith said.

Adjusting to college can also be hard for freshman. Experts say they recommend students take advantage of university resources to make their transition a smooth one.

Copyright 2014 KLTV. All rights reserved.

 

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