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Empty nest syndrome awaits many parents




Oh the empty nest. Clean bathrooms, romantic dinners and no soccer games. It sounds great, but a University of Wisconsin therapist says that millions of baby boomers are in for a big adjustment this fall when their children head off to college.

John Scherpelz, a therapist at UW Health Outpatient Psychiatry, has helped many couples through the transition, which he said can be as jarring as the one after the birth of the first child. After years of longing for quiet time, the house can seem a little too, well, quiet.

“Some times couples are challenged to fill the void that used to be occupied by the children,” he said. “Schedules and conversations no longer center on what the kids are doing — or what they’re refusing to do — and couples may find that their conversation skills have atrophied.”

They may need to acquire new skills, just as they adjusted 18 years before to midnight feedings, diaper changing and car seats.

“They may need to learn again to put thoughts and feelings into words for their partners, and to learn to listen as partners share their feelings,” he said.


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