QBoth of my children have left home this fall to go to college on the East Coast. After many years of raising and having them in the house all the time, I really miss them. My husband is busy with work and activities at the temple, but I feel sad and lost. I don’t know who I am anymore and what to do with my new life.

A Your are experiencing two major losses: 1) your children leaving; 2) dissolution of your primary identity as a mother. Your feeling grief and confusion about yourself and your future are expected and normal. Allow yourself to feel and reflect upon this major transition. Explore deeply all that you are grieving. Some of your feelings may relate to other experiences that you haven’t allowed yourself to really feel. In the South Asian culture the role of a mother is prominent and all-consuming. Traditionally, you would continue in that role all of your life. In modern cultures there is greater shifting of identities, which can be confusing, challenging, and exciting. It’s now time for you to explore other aspects of yourself and your life.
What are some of your other dreams? How is your relationship with your husband? Do you want to travel, work, advance your education or do some volunteer work? Explore what has heart and meaning for you. Each morning take some time to write down your thoughts and share them with your husband and others. Notice what touches and moves you as you begin this exploration. There are career centers, books, and classes on developing a new career or creating a new life. Give yourself some time to make this significant transition.

Q
I am 17 years old and will finish high school next June. My grades are OK and my parents want me to apply for college. I don’t want to go to college, nor do much of anything after I graduate. I just want to get a job somewhere and get my own apartment. What’s wrong with that?

A I am glad you are asking this question. Being a teenager is not easy in today’s world. A big transition is soon coming in your life and you’ll have a variety of reactions to it. Except for moving out, you sound down and disinterested in your future. I’m interested in what’s going on with you? Have you not enjoyed school and your life as a teenager? In addition to fear and confusion, usually there is excitement at starting your life as an adult soon. You don’t seem tapped into the possibilities that you could pursue. What are some of your interests and why aren’t your pursuing them? What else is challenging for you in your life right now?

Some teenagers do well by going abroad for a year to experience another culture and have time to think about what they want to do for the next few years. It would help you to discuss some of these things with your family, friends, or a counselor at school.

Alzak Amlani, Ph.D., is a counseling psychologist in the Bay Area. 650-325-8393. www.wholenesstherapy.com
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