Our youngest child is moving out of the house at the end of the month, and I am really struggling with this. My family and friends joke about “having the place to yourself,” but I am not excited at all. Is there something wrong with me? Should I be feeling happier than I am?

First of all I would like to assure you that there is absolutely nothing wrong with you. You have spent years as a parent tending to the human you have raised and are now launching into the world. 

It is perfectly natural to struggle with the question of “what will I do now that they are gone.” It would also be quite understandable if you felt like you are no longer needed. 

I have talked to several people who really struggled with having a sense of purpose when their children first left. I can tell you from personal experience that no matter how old our children get, they will always need us. 

What does change is the things they now need us for. I have found great satisfaction in getting to know my children as adults and having a front-row seat to watching them set and reach goals.

So, what do you do now? I think there are several things you can do to start getting used to the new living situation at your house. 

First, find a friend, family member or group (church, community, work) that you feel comfortable sharing your thoughts and feelings with. You are not alone in how you feel and having others validate you and be there to listen can really help. 

Second, do a mental inventory of your likes and needs. Is there anything like crafting, reading or taking a class that you have been putting off that you can get back into? 

Third, consider volunteering. If you are a person who really expresses themselves by giving to others volunteering is an excellent option. You can volunteer in your community, at church, the library, local schools, the Humane Society, nursing homes and many more places. 

A great website to see what specific volunteer opportunities are available is https://cuvolunteer.org/

Last but not least, schedule a regular time to call or visit with your child. You can also plan ahead for the holidays. Something I like to do is to read the same books my kids are reading. 

I really have come to enjoy our spirited conversations. This will give you both something to look forward to and provide you with a routine. 

It is so important to remember that all the time and love that you have put into raising your child was with the end goal of making them self-sufficient and successful when leaving the nest.

If you have a question that you think will help others, please send it for consideration to RantoulAskSherrie@yahoo.com.

This column is not intended to provide counseling/legal advice. Before you undertake any action, you should consult your own social worker/counselor. In the event of a mental health emergency, call 911 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255

Sherrie Faulkner of Rantoul, who writes a monthly column for the Rantoul Press, is a supporter of the local community. If you have a question that you think will help others, you may send it for consideration to RantoulAskSherrie@yahoo.com