Birds The Word
November 1, 2010 —
DEAR BIRDIE: Since my younger brother started college this year, my parents are living in an “empty nest.” What can my brother and I do to help them make the adjustment?
First, I would like to commend you and your brother for your mindfulness of your parents and their feelings. Many parents have difficult times dealing with the major change of their children leaving home. It is the first time their children are truly considered adults, and, to make matters more complicated, they may be leaving them.
Parents, like new students, still need to feel appreciated and loved. Periodic calls are nice for both the caller and the recipient; it is no exception with parents. If you worry about being stuck on the phone with them for a long time, try calling when you have a limited time to talk, like when you are on your way to class or before making a meal. A quick “Gotta go, Mom, I’m at my classroom” is an easy way to have a short but pleasant conversation.
You know how, when you first move on campus, people mention care packages and how awesome it is to get them from parents? Reverse the tables and send your parents something! A surprise treat or even just a letter from you would mean the world to them.
If they are struggling to fill the void that you and your brother left, you could encourage your parents to partake in some activities they have wanted to do or could be interested in. Book clubs, cooking classes, road trips and volunteering are great ways your mom and dad could spend their time.
The most important thing for a student to do for a parent dealing with an “empty nest” is to keep the lines of communication open. Yes, you have moved away and might not see them for a long time between visits, and yes, you need your independence. But you never can know how happy that quick phone call home can make a mom or dad feel, knowing that their busy college student took time out of his schedule to ring them up and tell them about his day.