Leaving Home for the First Time: Tips for Young Adults and Parents
Published: Aug. 19, 2019
When young adults move away from home for the first time, it’s a big step.
Whether it’s a student going to college or a young person entering the workforce, there are almost always adjustments to be made. And it’s not only the newly independent child who may struggle. Becoming an empty nester can also be challenging.
Working through loss
A child leaving home may experience new routines, new classmates, new coworkers and new expectations. Parents will experience a lot of change, too. And change can be hard. But there’s something deeper going on.
When a young adult moves out, both parent and child are experiencing a loss. With loss comes grief, and the sooner that’s recognized and acknowledged, the sooner everyone can transition to the new reality.
It’s important to remember all of the emotions you can experience while grieving – including anger, sadness, loneliness, uncertainty and fear. Whatever you’re feeling, know that it’s normal and there are ways to work through it.
Tips for young adults
No matter how well you prepare, leaving home can lead to anxiety and other emotional challenges stemming from the unknown. Will I get along with my roommate? Will I be able to pass my classes? Can I handle the new job? What about making friends?
Here are some tips that can help with the adjustment:
Stay connected to home: Don’t forget about those you left. Keep in touch, but don’t make them your focus.
Be proactive about making friends: Join a club or sports team to meet new people.
Create a routine: Keep doing some of the things you did while at home to create stability.
Explore the area: Familiarity brings comfort – and who knows who you may meet?
Work on positive thinking: If you focus on discomfort, you’ll never learn to be comfortable in your new surroundings.
Make your new home feel like home: Create a space that is uniquely yours yet still reminds you of where you came from. Be creative!
Tips for parents
When a child moves out, some parents experience a difficult transition known as “empty nest syndrome.” They may struggle with feelings of sadness or loss, and they’re naturally worried about what may happen to a child as they make their way into the world.
These ideas can help parents cope:
Embrace the change: Don’t compare this to your experience. Focus on what you can do to help your child succeed.
Reach out: Make an effort to maintain regular contact (but not too much).
Focus on the positive: The extra time and energy you may have can be devoted to your personal relationships or interests.
Get help: If you’re having a difficult time, lean on those close to you. Don’t be afraid to seek professional help if the feelings persist.
A child leaving home for the first time can be a good thing, even if it doesn’t feel like it right away. With time and understanding, everyone involved can benefit and grow from the experience.