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Dealing with "kid-sickness" can be tough

June 24, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
More than 10 million children are getting ready to head off to summer camp. And while some parents are looking forward to the solitude others aren't sure how they're going to get along. It's a phenomenon some experts call "kid-sickness."Paula Kendall is especially close to her children and admits she feels a twinge of sadness as she helps them pack up for camp.

"They're not just my kids, they're my friends," said "kid-sick" mom Paula Kendall.

While we expect kids to get a little home sick, parents may also be feeling some summer time blues.

"Parents get kid-sick. They're used to hearing from their children and checking in with their children and suddenly that abruptly stops, so I think what happens is parents experience this kind of emptiness," said Family Therapist Dr. Bob Ditter.

Call it a peak into "empty nest" syndrome. The loneliness parents feel when their kids leave home for good. Psychologists say adults whose identity is solely centered on being a parent have the most difficult time. The American Camp Association offers advice to parents first: focus on the positive.

"Think about all the great stories you're going to hear about, the fun," said American Camp Association CEO Peg Smith.

Remember separation is a natural and necessary thing to help your child succeed later in life.

A parents first instinct is to protect their child and when kids are away, many feel powerless.

Experts say feel confident in your decision. Don't forget the reasons why you chose the camp.

And while the kids are having a good time, parents should distract themselves with some fun, too.

"Go to a play, go to a movie, meet with friends for coffee that you might not be able to do because you are always taking care of the kids," said Dr. Ditter.

Paula hopes meeting with friends and remodeling her daughter's bedroom will be distraction enough. But if not she has a plan.

"I'm renting children to come to my home, to hang out," said Paula.

Now if you're really struggling so much so that you can't function experts say that's when you should seek professional help.

Otherwise share your feelings with your spouse or other parents. Another tip: arrange a time to communicate with your kids. If your camp doesn't allow calls from home and many don't check to see if e-mail is an option.

 

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