Parents aren’t the only ones who can experience the effects of an empty nest. Many people do not consider the effect of an older sibling moving from the home to go to college (or life in general) can have on the child that is left behind. The atmosphere of the home will greatly change for the remaining child.
In this article we will discuss five ways in which parents can help younger siblings adjust to big brother or big sister being gone.
Give the sibling left at home a little extra TLC. Devote extra time to do things together, especially in the beginning. While you are enjoying each others company be sure to bring up the sibling that is away and openly show the younger child it is okay to express that they miss their sibling and reassure them that the older one misses them also. Encourage the siblings to stay in contact with each other be it by, cell, IM ,or email, a simple how you doing will smooth over loneliness for both.
Encourage the younger sibling to write, or create cards to send to the older siblings. Have them find something that helps to convey there personality and the relationship they have with each other.
Allow the younger sibling to participate in creating and packaging up a care package to send the college student. They will feel as if they are taking care of their sibling by assembling things they know they will enjoy. If feasible through in some baked goods and allow the younger child to help you with preparation in the kitchen.
If the distance between you all is not to great and if the school will allow maybe a teen sibling can spend the night with your college age child in the dorm. If that is not possible go visit and have the college student come and stay with you all at a local hotel so some time can be spent together.
Lastly, when your college student packed for the dorm or their apartment, they were likely to have taken some pictures of their family members back home. As a special touch for the child who remains at home, have a family shot taken and placed in their room as a reminder or the togetherness and good times of the family.
Separations in life will occur at sometime or another, but as you reassure younger siblings that they are not forgotten it will help to keep family bonds strong.