Dear Mr. Dad: Our daughter is going away to college. On one hand, I’m thrilled that she’s becoming so independent. But we’ve always been very close and I’m worried that our relationship will suffer. Will it?
A: Well, the day you’ve hoped for and dreaded is finally here. Your child is going to move out. Some researchers have called this the beginning of the “post-parental stage,” but I think that’s a mistake. Yes, your child is leaving, but that doesn’t mean you’re going to stop being a parent. In fact, you’re just getting started on the longest phase of your fathering experience.
You’re going to miss her, and it’ll probably take you some time to adjust to your newly empty nest (unless you’re in what Craig Roberts and Kaye Zuengler call the “quasi-postparental stage,” which is when you’ve launched some but not all of your children). It’ll also take you some time to get used to your new relationship with your child and with your partner. Since you and your daughter were close, it may be hard to adjust to her gone. For those who weren’t around that much, having her leave home might be even harder because it’s unlikely that they’ll ever be able to develop that close a relationship.
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