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‘I’m going to cry:’ Central Georgia parents get ready to send their kids off to college

A family therapist says empty nest syndrome isn't a clinical diagnosis, but it's a phenomenon many parents experience


It’s back-to-school season, but not just for K-12 students. Central Georgia college students are packing their bags and getting ready to move into their college dorms.

Some parents may be struggling with the idea of having an empty nest. Missie Ayers knows because she is one of them. She's cherishing every minute she has with her daughter.

In just a few days, Reagan is moving out of her childhood home and into a dorm at Mercer University.

“Knowing that I can’t go see her in that bed every night...knowing that I don’t have to listen to her coming through that door in the evening, those are things I actually look forward to,” Ayers said.

What she'll experience is something called 'empty nest syndrome,' and it often occurs among parents of college students as they go back to school. 

“I’m going to cry. I know that because I already have, and I think I’m going to again,” Ayers said.

Bruce Conn, a family therapist at Coliseum Center for Behavioral Health, says though the syndrome isn’t a clinical diagnosis, the phenomenon is common. 

“Empty nest syndrome is when you build so much of your life around what is going on in the house that now there are no kids in the house and you don’t know what to do,” Conn said.

Conn says parents whose kids are flying the coop could experience loneliness, sadness, worrying and even depression. 

“That same amount of energy that was put into raising your child is going into problem solving and thinking how can I help...what can I do,” Conn said.

So is there a cure? Conn says yes.

“Find those things that interest you. You did good for the last 18 years. Now, just believe in them, let them go live," he said.

It's something Ayers says she'll struggle to do, but she knows her daughter can handle whatever life throws at her. She’s taking it one day at time by packing up her belongings and prepping for the day her daughter moves off on her own.


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