How to Adjust When Your Child Is Moving out for the First Time

Woman moving in into new apartment
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Moving out to attend college or to start a life away is a very large step toward adulthood. While a move naturally creates a physical distance between parents and children, the emotional separation does not need to be as difficult as it first seems. On the other hand, even if parents think that they're going to enjoy their newfound space, everyone experiences some sense of loss. 

Remember that your child still needs you, but in a different way. It's important to recognize this change in your relationship to allow your child to make their own decisions and to learn from any mistakes they may make.

Let Your Child Take Charge of the Move

A good time to stop planning your child's life is now. Let them prepare for their move. Encourage them to make a list of things they'll need, including important dates, such as registration and move-in days, and what they might need for their first apartment or their dorm room. However, leave the actual planning to them, letting them know that you're around to help or to offer moving advice.

Try to Advise Them Without Pushing

The best way to communicate with your child is to ask questions without any prejudgment. Many of us ask our children a question knowing ahead of time what we want their answer to be; when the answer is different than what we want, our response usually lets our child know that we don't agree. While we may not agree, remember that it is time for your child to make their decisions and to trust that your years of guidance and instilled values will guide them through. If you disagree with their decision let them know by offering your alternative without pushing.


Let your child know that you're going to miss them and establish upfront what you expect in terms of communication. If you prefer that they call you every week, then let them know and provide them a means of doing so. Be flexible in your expectations and suggest alternatives, such as email or text messaging. You should let your child know that you're always there if they need you: however, the best solution is not always to run when your child calls. It's best to let them sort out their problems and issues and to become simply the shoulder to cry on rather than the one who solves everything.

Money and Finances

Make sure you go over any financial issues that your child needs to know, particularly if you're supporting them. Ensure that they're aware of their personal budget and what you expect from them in terms of spending and resources. Let them know that they need to stay within a certain budget. If more money is required for unknown or unexpected costs associated with school, they should let you know ahead of time and not expect you to "bail them out." Part of growing up is taking care of their accounts and learning how to budget.

After They Move out, Give Yourself Time to Adjust

As you know, being a parent is more than a full-time job. When a child moves out, that time we once spent caring for our child belongs to us again, and while that may feel strange it's important for you to try and redirect your focus back to yourself. Before your child leaves, start preparing by making a list of the things you want to do, including any hobbies, house fix-ups, books or courses that you've put off doing because of time. Do something nice for yourself. 

Re-Establish Your Relationship With Your Partner

Many couples find that after the children leave they have a difficult time adjusting to being a duo again. Try to start focusing on your relationship by arranging dates, making social plans together or by taking up a new hobby. Reconnecting will happen if you give it time and make it a priority.