August 3, 2009

Overcoming empty-nest stress syndrome

High-school graduates embark on new lives in college or jobs, but parents also face emotional and lifestyle adjustments, a U.S. expert says.

Parents as well as students need to make emotional and lifestyle transitions after high school, advises Dr. Margo Benjamin, of NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Westchester Division and Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City.

A lot of parents experience a sense of sadness or loss when their child goes away for college, Benjamin says in a statement. It's often helpful for parents to share their feelings with each other as well as talk with other parents who have gone through the same experience.

The parent's goal, she says, is to stay connected without overstepping. Parents should read everything the school sends and discuss with their children school drinking policies and other rules.

Stay informed, and if there's a parents' visiting day, go, says Benjamin, who notes Sunday night phone calls have been replaced by intermittent cell phone calls and e-mail.

The parent or child having prolonged difficulty adjusting should seek professional evaluation, Benjamin says.