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FOX Medical Team

Empty homes can be hard for parents

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ATLANTA -

It's the time of the year when a lot of college students are heading off to school, leaving parents with an empty house.

Going off to college is a huge step for kids and sometimes a hard thing for parents.

GROW Counseling psychologist Dr. Wendy Dickinson says reinventing your life after your kids leave home make take some getting used to.

"One of the things that's really helpful for parents is positive self-talk, reminding yourself as a parent that you've raised the kids to leave home and go to college and that this is a really good thing," Dickinson said.

And goodbye isn't really goodbye when it's easier than ever to stay connected. So should you back off and give your student space, or is it OK to check in?

"I think that it's appropriate for the first few weeks to talk to them every day as they're settling in and getting into a routine," Dickinson said. "Most of the time I find with college students that that tapers off to a couple of times a week as they get adjusted to their environment."

If you sense that your student is having a hard time, Dickinson says many colleges have strong student counseling services that can help.

As parents, it may be time to get back in touch with yourselves and each other.
 
"One of the things I find with empty nesters, especially if they've sent their last student off to college, is that their identity as mom and dad is what they've been doing so long, that sometimes they get out of touch with themselves as an adult, as a learner," said Dickinson said.

Dickinson says volunteer, take up a new hobby or take a trip together, to reconnect.

"It's important to fill that space that they've been parenting with something else, so that they don't just feel like there's a hole there," Dickinson said.

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