PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- Many of us are settling into the new fall routine and for some that could mean your first semester without one of your kids at home.

[VIDEO: How parents can deal with an empty nest]

Or maybe this is the senior year for your child and that big move is less than a year away.

Either way, you're in for some very big changes.

Experts say "launching" our kids is exciting but a lot of people don't realize just how hard that's going to be.

Nickie Kennedy has launched two children. Casey graduated high school four years ago and just finished at Arizona State University in May.

Shane graduated high school in 2018.

"And then all of a sudden they're just not there. They're not at the dinner table, they're gone. So it's bittersweet because they've done what you've raised them to do but it's sad when they're gone," she said.

Ann Webdale just sent her first born, son Aaron, off to ASU.

"He was sort of the peacemaker of the family so I've lost this sort of constant flow of the peacemaker and now I've got the other two children here which is wonderful but they miss him," she said.

Psychiatrist Dr. Lisa Strohman says even though it's what we're supposed to do sending kids away isn't easy.

"Nobody really talks about what it feels like once they leave so that loss that we have as a parent, and honestly that lack of control," she explained.

She says it's normal to grieve that change as a deep loss.

That's why she says it's so important to prepare emotionally just as much as you do logistically.

"I think the most important thing parents can do with a senior is not overemphasize that last year that last time we have with them. I think the mistake is see most is this is the last year I have you at home, let's go out lets do this let's have time together and it really is that part where you should be preparing for less time together."

She continued, "that last year should be kind of a dry run so to speak to see how they handle that freedom."

Strohman says this change hits moms a whole lot harder than it does dads.

"That emotional bond, that emotional connection with a mom and a child is a little bit stronger or more emphatic. That's the person you go to when you're hurting or when things are sad."

A couple other things to note: Dr. Strohman says sending boys off is sometimes harder because they kind of go off the radar once they're away.

And she said rebranding yourself is a great lesson for your kids because they're always watching so be strong and set that example for them.

It's a process but it's one we have to prepare for.

Heidi Goitia is the traffic reporter and fill-in anchor for CBS 5 This Morning weekdays from 4:30-7am.
 
 


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