Help! My Kids Are Leaving the Nest

Are you ready for this time of leaving?

Leaving in September: the Early Years

For some parents, September is the happiest time of the year. But, the beginning of a school year is not happy for all. Forget Disneyland’s motto for the Happiest Place on Earth,” the school parking lot next week will be filled with some parents making strange noises and shaking with the anticipation as they hand their children over to the classroom teachers.

Certainly, this is not every parent’s reality. Some parents dread the start of the school year with the making of lunches, the routine, the hustle of activities and beginning of homework battles.

Leaving in September: the Later Years

But there is one group of parents, the ones where the family is transitioning away from High School, and young adults are making steps to leave the family home. Couples can wonder if they remember what it is like to spend time together without the kids sharing the space between them. Parents may worry about the young adult’s choices in education, work environment or relationships. Letting go of the investment we have in the young people we are raising is no small task.

How To Prepare for Empty Nest?

Here are four encouraging things you can do for yourself and your family to prepare for the inevitable flight from home.

  1. Don’t delay in getting to know your partner again. Date your spouse now, no more excuses. Remember what drew the two of you together to create the family and reproduce those memories. Reconnect…even in small ways.
  2. Empower your adolescents to become more independent. If you are the parent who drives the lunch to school when the young person forgets it on the counter or goes home to grab and drop off the young person’s PE gear, you and your young adult will feel very stretched when they move onto campus without you close by to “help them out.”
  3. Remember your young adult is not you. You have done well to raise a well adjusted, independent young person who now will want to make their own decisions. As scary as this may be, you created this, and it is good. Recognizing they will make different decisions than you might, or take a different path means they are exercising what you taught them to be: an individual. Not wrong, just different. And like you, they will not always have success. They, too, will learn from failure.
  4. Take this time to notice what’s next for you. This time you have is both a new beginning and an ending. Somethings are ending, true, but new things can begin for you. Find what the next thing is for you. Find it, pursue it and begin doing the next, best thing.

For one mother’s perspective of the empty nest, read this blog post written by Shelley Emling one month after her eldest left home for college.

Take good care next week whether you are carrying tissues into the parking lot or doing cartwheels. And if you are feeling quite stuck, sad, or running out of tissues, come to the living room at Canvas. Our doors are open. We have tea and can help you journey along in this transition.

Take good care,


Individual and couple therapy in Langley, BC
Tracey Dahl
Tracey Dahl
Registered clinical counsellor (RCC)