Dear Patricia Marie,

My daughter left home two weeks ago to go to university. She will be living on the campus as she is now 6 hours' journey away, and I shall only see her in the holidays. Although we are conversing by text, phone and email, I desperately miss her physical presence.

She feels the same way but is trying hard to adjust. There is now such a gap in my life, especially as I am now living on my own, and I don't know which way to turn. I go into her room every now and then, and am struck by the emptiness and silence. No longer is there a constant stream of her friends in and out of the house, with their excited chatter. I did expect it to be difficult when she left, but just didn't imagine it would be this bad.

I also worry that when her studies are over, she will have made a new life for herself at the opposite end of the country, and is quite likely not going to wish to come back and live with mum.

How can I possibly adjust?

Patricia Marie says...

It's very common for parents to get emotional when their child leaves home to go to university, and many are left with an overwhelming sense of emptiness because they no longer feel needed. The more you've invested in being a parent, the stronger your sense of loss will be - so your extreme sadness is a sign you've been a good mum. Remind yourself that parenting is all about raising an independent and confident child who functions well without you.

You need to allow yourself time to grieve, and don't expect to pick yourself up and move on straight away. You are obviously greatly missing the interaction with your daughter and her friends, so I wonder if you have considered getting a dog, which would demand attention from you and also provide you with unconditional love. The key is to keep busy - you now have extra time to develop your own life - and hopefully may soon feel able to take up a new hobby or interest, or catch up with friends and family, as becoming more involved in their lives could help shift the focus away from your daughter.

With today's technology, it's easy to keep in touch regularly, but remember not to smother her as she needs to settle too. Talk to other parents who are experiencing similar emotions, as this could help enormously, and bear in mind that many who have been in this situation would agree that it does get better and you do adapt. Your daughter may, or may not, come back home, but also, your circumstances could change, and you could be the one relocating. Although there is uncertainty about the future, what you can be certain of is that wherever you both may be, the bond which you clearly share at the moment should remain as strong as ever.