The Times West Virginian

Life

June 23, 2012

As kids leave home, many parents may need to grow up, too

Forget empty-nest syndrome: I had a rough enough time recently sending my 6-year-old off to his first sleepover at a friend's house.

He was clearly more ready for this milestone than his father and I were: He'd been begging to go for weeks, and that afternoon, he sat on our steps eagerly waiting to be picked up — sleeping bag, glow-in-the-dark PJs and s'mores fixings in hand — as I worked at holding back tears.

While it can be hard to watch your children head off for sleepovers, sleepaway camp or even Grandma and Grandpa's house for a few nights, such an event is a healthy and important step, says clinical psychologist Maureen Monaghan of Children's National Medical Center.

"I think it is a great idea to give kids an experience of being on their own in a structured, supportive, supervised environment," she says. The time away from parents provides an excellent opportunity for even young children to take initiative, exercise their autonomy and develop leadership, problem-solving and social skills, which often builds self-esteem, she explains. "Even just one night away from parents can be valuable. . . . It definitely challenges kids — it takes them out of their comfort environment — but it's usually really positive, and we see a lot of growth and maturing."

To learn more, I spoke with psychologist Michael Thompson, author of "Homesick and Happy: How Time Away From Parents Can Help a Child Grow," about letting your kids go away and the associated benefits for the whole family:

Q: Why is it so hard for today's parents to separate from their children, at any age?

A: This generation of parents has invested an enormous amount of time in being emotionally close with their children and having very deep attachments. They've also invested an enormous amount in protecting their children from trauma. We have doubled the amount of time spent with children in the last 20 years. When you're all in, it's hard to step out — it's just that simple.

Text Only
Life
  • GriefShare helps ease the pain of loss

    For years, Judy Brown was weighed down by the painful burden of the grief from losing many family members.
    Her dad died in 1999, her sister in 2001, her mother in 2003 and an uncle in 2005. Her in-laws had passed away, also.
    It was almost more than she could bear.

    March 1, 2014

  • Screen shot 2014-02-24 at 3.00.28 PM.png VIDEO: Remembering Harold Ramis

    The comedy legend, best known for his role in the "Ghostbusters" films, has passed away.

    February 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Die-hard WVU fan goes to extremes to keep his attendance streak alive

    When WVU’s football team took on Syracuse in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl on Dec. 29, 2012, Rick Harshbarger was in the stands at Yankee Stadium cheering on the Mountaineers.
    The next day, Harshbarger was back in the Mountain State by noon to root for the WVU men’s basketball team as it faced Eastern Kentucky University at the Coliseum.

    February 15, 2014

  • Churches use big game as way of giving

    Super Bowl Sunday is almost like a national holiday.
    The day consists of family, friends, chips and dip, and various other festivities.
    But while the Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos get ready to square off at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey for Super Bowl XLVIII today, Central United Methodist Church in Fairmont will be having a competition of its own.

    February 2, 2014

  • Change to Westminster show celebrates the everydog

    When the nation’s foremost dog show added an event open to mixed breeds, owners cheered that everydogs were finally having their day.
    They see the Westminster Kennel Club’s new agility competition, which will allow mutts at the elite event next month for the first time since the 1800s, as a singular chance to showcase what unpedigreed dogs can do.

    January 26, 2014

  • Family promise gave life to man in 31-year coma

    As his 7-year-old son Mikey lay in a hospital bed on life support, the victim of a drunk driver who had smashed into his family’s car, Paul Cortez took the boy’s hand and made a solemn promise to God: If his son survived, no matter in what condition, he and his family would always be there for him.

    January 26, 2014

  • Muppets mini-makeover aims to boost kids’ health

    Bert and Ernie jump rope and munch apples and carrots, and Cookie Monster has his namesake treat once a week, not every day. Can a Muppets mini-makeover improve kids’ health, too?
    A three-year experiment in South America suggests it can. Now, the Sesame Street project is coming to the United States.

    January 25, 2014

  • Should you friend your boss on Facebook?

    So? Should you and your boss be friends on Facebook? The answer, of course, is not simple.

    October 27, 2012

  • Aric and Melanie Naternicola.jpg Link to the past

    An old wood-and-iron lunk of an apple press is linking Aric Naternicola to a great-grandfather.
    “My grandfather (Joe Naternicola Sr.) told me his father had bought it from somebody 60, 70 years ago. And I restored it,” he said.

    October 24, 2012 3 Photos

  • 1059682_13738568.jpg Slate: The physics of cracking an egg

    My mother taught me to crack the egg on the rim of the mixing bowl before gently pulling the two halves apart with both hands, while my husband prefers to tap the eggshell gently with the dull edge of a knife. Others might favor striking the egg against the edge, or the surface, of a countertop.

    October 4, 2012 1 Photo

House Ads
Featured Ads