'Off to college' not just transition for student, East Texans explain

TYLER, TX (KLTV) - By Sara Story - bio | email
Posted by Ellen Krafve - bio | email | Twitter

TYLER, TX (KLTV) - It is not just kids who get the back to school blues. When parents send their kids off to college, they may experience "empty nest syndrome."

The transition to a house without kids can be tough, leaving moms and dads feeling lonely.

Karen Norton helped her youngest son pack his belongings and move to his college dorm room last week. An exciting milestone in her son's life, Norton feels empty now that all three of her children are off at school.

"You feel like you've lost a piece of yourself," said Norton.

She is not alone. Cay Bolin says it was hard when her daughter left the house.

"I was involved in PTA," said Bolin. "I was involved in a lot of things that were focused around my daughter, and all of the sudden, I thought, 'What am I going to do?'"

Doctors say empty nest syndrome is one of the biggest transitions of motherhood along with child birth.

"It typically affects the woman more because she is typically more involved in parenting," said Dr. Mike McKee, a psychologist at Cleveland Clinic. "The guys are glad to get their wife back. It can help their marriage in that respect."

But, for the Norton family, empty nest syndrome did not just effect mom.

"My husband is a really good father," said Norton. "He's really been involved in his kid's lives, and to have them gone and not need his council is a challenge for him."

Bolin and Norton meet with a group called Moms in Touch once a week to pray for their kids at school. Both admit they are comforted by moms in similar situations.

"For me, it was helpful to talk to them and see how they coped with it," explained Bolin.

Supporting each other and focusing on their marriages make their nests a little less empty.

"We made it a point to have a date night when we were raising kids and that we would get away and spend time as a couple," shared Bolin.

"I look forward to being with my husband, just he and I again," said Norton.

Psychologists say it is also unhealthy for parents to become "helicopter parents." This is when you try to control your child's life while they are away at college.

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