Category Archives: Empty Nest

Sending your Teen off to College Successfully

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High School graduation is behind us and college is about to start.  For those of us launching our teens off to college for the first time, we have about two months to review skills, discuss expectations, spend family time together, shop and pack.  Doing this with thought and planning will help make the transition a smooth one.

You may have plans to spend every waking moment with your soon to depart student only to discover they want to spend all of his/her time with friends.  Support their time with friends while planning some meaningful time with family.  Try to also spend alone time with your teen, perhaps giving them the option of picking the activity.

Some teens are better able to separate if they’re angry.  They may battle with you and/or siblings more often, feeling it’s easier to leave family with whom you’re angry.  Others may have meltdowns, be cranky or even clingy.  Try not to engage in arguing but to give them some space while understanding that change is stressful and going off to college is scary. Reassure them they are ready.

There are some skills your student will need to have at college that may not have been emphasized while living at home.  They will need to do laundry, iron, make a bed, clean, and manage money and time. Make sure they feel comfortable doing these things by giving them guidance and supportive instruction.

Discuss financial expectations with your student.  Where will their spending money come from and how will they access it? Who will pay for books, food outside of the meal plan, entertainment? It’s best to develop a budget with them and make sure they know how to use a credit card, ATM card, and write a check.

Talk to them about how and how often you will be in contact.  Some parents and students prearrange a day and time for weekly phone calls, some text as needed, others FaceTime or Skype.  Some parents tell their students they will leave the frequency of contact up to the student but will let them know if it’s not often enough for the parent.

Help your teen decide what to take with them to school.  Let them pick their bedding and decorations for the dorm room and be there as a guide instead of running the show.  Be supportive of their choices.  Go shopping with them as that’s a great way to spend time together.

Try to control your emotions. Certainly let your child know that you’re going to miss them but not to the point that they will worry about you when they’re gone.  Let them know you trust them and the decisions they will make.

Remember, all your years of hard work have led up to this point.  You’ve taught, they’ve learned. Show your love and trust.

Best of luck to all of you!

Is Your Marriage Stale?

Mature couple having relationship problemsIs your marriage feeling stale? Have you lost the spark? Are you often at a loss of what to say to your spouse? Do his/her little annoying habits make you miserable?

Believe it or not, this is perfectly normal in marriages. We may not like it, it may feel uncomfortable, but just about everyone goes through it. Why?

Unfortunately, we often ignore the familiar. We may spend a lot of energy and use much creativity at the job, pay attention to how we sound and what we say to friends and co-workers, act delighted to see a neighbor or the mail person, and then come home and virtually ignore our spouse. It’s certainly understandable. At the end of the day we’re tired, cranky, hungry.  It feels like “work” to put a smile on your face and sit and listen intently to someone else’s day. The last thing in the world you want to do is have to be “on” at home. I bet if you were having dinner with a friend you’d do it.

I know you’ve heard it before, but, here it is again. Marriage takes work. But this work can be lots of fun. So here’s your homework to get that spark back and reignite the flame.

  1. Remember the things you did when you and your spouse were dating? Make dates with him/her and do some of those things again.
  2. Tell him/her that they look sexy, pretty, handsome.
  3. Do you remember how to flirt? Try it on your spouse.
  4. Write a love note or x-rated note and slip it into their pocket or purse.
  5. Buy them something small and cute.
  6. You know those movies that make you think, “why doesn’t he/she do those things?” You do them. You be the initiator.
  7. When out with your spouse, try asking questions about them and then really listen to the answer. Reserve talking about the kids for when you’re at home. A date should be a date.
  8. Tell them why you fell in love with them.

When I’m working with a couple in couples therapy, I look at both spouses and say, “you do these things first”.  In other words, don’t wait for your spouse to initiate the above. If you both start there won’t be any resentment.

Have a great time!

Empty Nest Without Feeling Empty

Congratulations, your son or daughter is ready to leave home. That means you have raised them in such a way that they are independent enough to live on their own. Great job! Perhaps they’re going off to college, perhaps getting married, or perhaps moving into their own place to start a job. They are ready to have you cut the apron strings and let them leave the nest. You’re pretty sure they are ready, but are you?

Empty Nest Without Feeling EmptyAlmost everyone faces this new transition with trepidation. Yes, you’re going to have freedom, perhaps have the house alone all to yourself, or to you and your husband, but at what cost? Will you be lonely? Will you be able to find things to do? Will your child still need you? No wonder you’re scared, sad, anxious. Change is scary. You’re transitioning into the unknown. But this is not a crisis. It’s just a new stage in life, an inevitable change that most of us hope we and our children will reach.

For tips on how to face this stage with strength and optimism, please see the full article on Psychology Today’s website at http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/life-without-anxiety/201107/empty-ne…

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or you think I can be of some help. I have offices conveniently located in the New York City and Westchester areas.