Start of college means empty nest for parents

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT)- It’s back to school for college students nationwide — causing parents to adjust to much quieter homes as their young adults move out.

It’s move-in day at Oakwood University, and for parents like Deborah Winston, empty-nest syndrome creeps up as they prepare their kids for college. “When I come home in the evening, she won’t be there. I think that’s when it will become really real.”

For her daughter Tahira, the experience is bittersweet.

“I’m sad to be leaving home. Excited, but definitely sad. I kind of can’t wait for Christmas already.”

Deborah said incoming-freshman Tahira is truly her friend — who also helps her operate any and all gadgets she has.

“She says ‘mom who’s gonna help you with your cell phone?’, because I dont know how to do anything,” said Winston. “‘Who’s going to help you with your computer? Who’s going to help you with Facebook?’ I was like…you’re right!”

Deborah’s family isn’t the only one worried about losing touch with technology. Natalie Williams of Melbourne, Florida says her family might be lost without her.

“I’m the tech-savvy one in the family, so they’re going to not know how to turn on the TV and i’m not going to be there,” she laughed. Her father, Cleopas, says he never thought he would be the parent that needs help.

“She’s able to show me apps, show me things i’m almost embarassed to say,” said Williams, who says losing Natalie to college will be like ‘losing a partner.’ Natalie and her older sister are both Oakwood Ambassadors, and now that Williams is losing his ‘baby girl,’ he says it’s going to be terrible.

For some parents, the empty nest is an opportunity to find new ways to spend their time.

“I’m going to rest,” said Lisa Hall, who is dropping off her daughter, a sophomore transferring from a junior college back in Dallas, Texas.

“I want to travel, and maybe get involved in some things in town, so I’m kind of looking forward to that,” said Hall. The parents are already imagining what home will be like without their young adults.

“It’s going to be quiet,” said Winston, “it’s going to be clean and neat…and it’s going to have food in it!”

But overall — parents are proud to watch their college students form a new path.

dr. cleopas williams oakwood alum:

“She’s wanting to follow in my footsteps, which was to be a physician,” said Williams, “and I know that’s 8 years…which means 8 years she’s gone. But it’s her time.”
Oakwood students — both old and new — will be heading back to class August 20.

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