Home > Kids > Values and Responsibilities > Fostering Independence > When the First Child Leaves Home
|

When the First Child Leaves Home

The phone appears to have stopped ringing. It's quieter in the house...much quieter. You are often swept up by sudden moments of sadness. Your first child has left home. To college, to the military, to a job across the country. He's gone.

The daily rhythm and family interactions change considerably when your first child leaves home. Sometimes the void creates subtle but powerful changes, like one less good night kiss. Other changes can be easily measured, like the weekly food bill.

It's best to say out loud how you feel about your child's absence. Neither parents nor siblings should continue with life as if nothing has happened. You and your other children may be more moody, clingy, argumentative, or withdrawn. The family's emotional axis is off kilter. You need to create opportunities for your children to express their feelings about their sister or brother's absence. It may be more difficult for your older children to comment on missing their sibling, so you may have to initiate the discussion, saying something like, "I've been missing Sam a lot lately, especially when we all go for bike rides on Sunday. How about you?"

Be careful not to dwell on how much you miss your child in front of your other children. Doing so may increase their sadness and it may make them feel less important and even less loved. They may even consciously or unconsciously resort to atypical misbehavior or angelic behavior to get your attention. Conversely, you might unconsciously smother your kids with exaggerated attention and affection in an effort to soothe your hurt.

It's essential that your children witness you making attempts to stay connected to their missing sibling. Involve them all in staying in touch with him -- through letters, emails, phone calls, videos, and care packages from home. If possible, visit him as a family if and when he has time to spend with you, even if it's just to have dinner together. Don't forget, your remaining children will be leaving someday, too. They need to see that you will always reach out to them when they are gone, that they will always be missed, loved, welcomed home and never forgotten.

|


stay connected

Sign up for our free email newsletters and receive the latest advice and information on all things parenting.

Enter your email address to sign up or manage your account.

Facebook icon Twitter icon Follow Us on Pinterest

editor’s picks

get ready for school!

We’ve got your
shopping list,
lunch menu,
and more.

GO

highlights

Join BIC on our mission to save handwriting and Fight For Your Write! Writing helps kids become better readers, boosts their confidence and sparks their creativity. Visit BICFightForYourWrite.com to sign our petition to save handwriting!

7 Fun Driveway and Sidewalk Games for Kids
Looking for classic outdoor games kids can play in the driveway or on the sidewalk, just like the good ol' days? From hopscotch to bubble-blowing contests, there's something for all ages!

Kindergarten Readiness App Wins Gold
Our Kindergarten Readiness app won the Gold Award of Excellence in the educational category at the 2014 Communicator Awards. This valuable checklist comes with games and activities to help your child practice the essential skills she needs for kindergarten. Download the Kindergarten Readiness app today!

Best Sun Safety Practices for Babies
Follow these sun safety practices for babies to ensure your little one stays safe on the beach and on sunny days all year long.