Parental Separation Anxiety

8:47 PM

If most parents had their way, they would surely try to avoid being separated from their children even for a short time. There is considerable comfort in having children within viewing distance knowing that a parent can pounce immediately to the rescue at the very first sign of danger. Parents would soon realize however that children will have to spread their own wings as they grow older and most of these moments will have to be faced on their own. During these times, parents may feel separation anxiety.

What is Separation Anxiety?

Separation anxiety is the fear of being separated from home or from people to whom one has strong emotional attachment to like a parent, child, sibling, spouse, caregiver, or even a friend. While it is most common among young children during their first taste of separation from their parents typically when a parent has to go back to work or a child's first day in school, parents can experience the same emotional condition. Parental separation anxiety is as real as a child's version. Surprisingly, it is sometimes the adults who find it more difficult to recover.

When Parental Separation Anxiety Creeps In

During those times when children are more clingy, parents would give anything just to have a little alone time. As children grow older, they form their own set of friends and parents can feel somewhat left-out from their children's lives. Parents react differently. While many let go of their children with more ease, others will try to hold on, sometimes ending up stifling their child's emotional development even without intending to.

How Parents Cope with Parental Separation Anxiety

Parents must realize that children will have to live their lives on their own at some point. It would be more beneficial on both ends if parents are able to guide their children towards independence instead of preventing it. Here are some suggestions on how parents can better cope with parental separation anxiety:

1. Enjoy your time alone with your spouse or with yourself. Reactivate long forgotten interests for personal development. You have given so much of yourself and your time to your children. It's about time to pay attention to yourself as your children try to find their way on their own. Derive comfort that they will be coming back home after their time with their friends. If your children are married, then find comfort in the thought that you have raised them well as adults capable of managing their own households. Staying happily busy leaves you no time to dwell on negative thoughts. It is also highly recommended to stay in touch with other parents who can form your support group.

2. Celebrate with your children their accomplishments towards independence. The surefire way to combat parental separation anxiety is to guide children towards the right path to future independence. You had time with your children and you have to accept the inevitable, which is them making their own decisions, doing things on their own, and following their own desires. They will be better equipped if you as their parent will teach them along the way. You will feel more secure in letting them go if you know you have laid the right foundation.

3. Take the time to know the people who matter to your children. A big part of the anxiety felt by parents is not knowing the people their children spend time with. This is especially true for pre-teen and teenage children who are susceptible to bad influence. You as a parent, can take the initiative of knowing these people so that encouragement or warning can be given. Fear's biggest element is always the unknown.

My Say

Most of the time I think it would be easier if my children will forever be with my husband and I, but I know that is so selfish and unrealistic. We were young once and we fully understand how it feels to want some space to grow without our own parents breathing down our necks. Honestly, we are starting to feel parental separation anxiety but we decided to do something positive about it.

That said, I know it is not easy to let go of our children but we must, if we want to give the best to them. Crippling their lives because of our own fears will only backfire. Let us let them soar with confidence, knowing that they will always look back at us wherever life leads them. As for my husband and myself, we are actually looking forward to the time when it will be back to the two of us when our duties for our children are done. 

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