Life transitions and family dynamics

In many ways we spend the majority of our life experiencing one kind of transition or another. Leaving home, new relationships, new jobs, having children; the list goes on. However, for parents, one of the major milestones is when your child, or children, start leaving home. This is such an individual thing, as whilst there may be similarities in how you and your friends or family cope with this, it is also a very personal experience, one that is not always easy to voice. One person's celebration can be another’s struggle with uncertainty and anxiety.

Perhaps only one of your children has left home, but it happens to be the one that you feel closest too. Whether it’s because of a shared sense of humour, shared interests, or long conversations, these feelings, the sense of loss and sadness, can be both hard to carry, and hard to share with anyone.
If you are still with the father of your children, their absence may well bring your own relationship as a couple into the spotlight. For some, this can be a natural transition into spending more time together as a couple, enjoying each others company, and having the house to yourselves. However, for others this can be a challenging time, whether on an individual basis, or as a couple trying to re-adjust and work through this together. An example would be a partner who has traditionally stayed away a lot, whilst the main care giver was at home with the children. With the children gone, the dynamics have changed, and it might be that this doesn’t work for the one who now finds themselves at home, with the focus of their attention for many years, now gone.

It might be that your children stayed at home for a lot longer than you had ever envisaged; they have left, they are doing well and are happy, and now you feel only an immense sense of freedom. No longer wearing the 'parental hat' 24/7. A chance to re-discover yourself, take up long forgotten interests, to just be the individual you once were. Yes, you are there if they need you, but generally you are happy to have some space back in your life. For some, when asked if they miss their children, it can be easy to answer ‘no’. For others, answering these questions honestly can be difficult. Some parents can feel guilty because they don’t miss their children, others can feel equally guilty because they are grieving, and nursing an enormous sense of loss, not celebrating at all.

Counselling can be the ideal place to explore, voice, and discuss this often challenging time. Whether it’s about your own changes, to do with identity, loss, freedom etc, or your thoughts about the relationship that you are in, and exploring your feelings, thoughts, choices, and ultimately, moving forward. The transition to the next phase.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Counselling Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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