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With graduation season over, some parents confronting an empty nest

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Posted: Monday, June 25, 2007 10:00 pm

Now that graduation in Lodi has wrapped up, it's time for many of the kiddies to head off to college, to experience what is an adventurous and exciting world, a new and uh … oh, come on, are you crying already?

Don't feel bad, most moms get depressed at this point in their life. Most moms feel like their purpose has come to an end. After all, many can't remember the last time they had to think only about themselves and not about their offspring. It's an emotional state, a psychological battle that pains some mothers into feeling like their maternal bond is being severed.

The term to accurately reflect this feeling is "empty-nest syndrome."

The syndrome can also affect those moms that lose their child to that "hussy" or "playa" that isn't good enough for their son or daughter come wedding bell time.

Weeks ago, outside of Lodi High's Grad Night party set-up, I was in a conversation with a mother, who for as long as I could ever remember was involved in everything involving her children, with whom I had gone to school for years. From her daughter's dancing and school projects to her son's Cub Scouts and sports, she was at every meeting, event or performance they had. I'll never forget her as always being involved.

But that night her son was about to graduate and become and adult.

This led me to ask the obvious but eerie question no parent would voluntarily like to hear.

"What are you going to do now?"

This woman dedicated a huge portion of her life to raising and being with her children. Now it was all over. She wasn't sure what she wanted to do.

Those who've identified this syndrome, Christine Webber, psychotherapist and life coach and Dr. David Delvin, have written a very helpful and insightful article on

These pros claim that while you may feel more ashamed of yourself for already being depressed and occasionally weeping, it's perfectly normal to fetch one of your kiddo's T-shirts and sit in their old room, thinking of them. The writers say that this helps make you feel closer to your newly distant child.

They also say the following about overly upset mothers:

"If, on the other hand, you are feeling that your useful life has ended, or if you are crying excessively, or if you're so sad that you don't want to mix with friends or go to work, then you should seek professional help - especially if these severe symptoms go on for longer than a week."

But all is not lost. The following are some tips the pros offer to get over your empty-nest blues:

• Your offspring will need your support, but will not want to feel swamped, and the more you cling or show that you're upset, the less likelihood there is of him or her contacting you.

So, ration your calls to no more than two a week. Also, try texting some of the time, or using e-mail instead of phoning.

• If your child is having a miserable time at university or college, do resist the impulse to be pleased about this! And don't suggest that he or she give up and come home.

Meanwhile, you need some help and support for your feelings. Lean on your friends - maybe some of them are going through the same thing, or have gone through it. And be very kind to yourself. Think of treats for yourself; you could have a long lie in a scented bath for example - in fact you may come to see that although you've lost a teenager, you've gained a bathroom!

Here now, as the article states, are some practical things to do:

• Buy some credit for your son's or daughter's mobile phone.

• Try to agree on a time once a week when you can both have a good natter to each other on the phone.

• E-mail some funny snippets of what's happening at home.

The pros also suggest, for all of those couples out there who've lived their lives through their children the last 18 years, to try and rekindle your romantic state. The state that had no children present and was just you and the spouse you fell in love with.

I hope these tips helped. And to all those mothers out there, you've done a fine job and your kids need a chance to grow. Give them the space they need and support they want. It's time for junior to become "all growed up."

Wade Heath is a college student. He can be reached at: Also at:

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