Harriette Cole: I put my career on hold to prepare my kids for college, and now I’m wrecked – The Mercury News

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DEAR HARRIETTE: I am the father of two college students; the second just started college this year.
I worked hard to get my kids prepared for college, and they are doing well. My problem is that I am extremely emotional about my kids being gone. My wife misses them, but she isn’t suffering like I am.
I think it might be because I put my career on pause so that I could do everything they needed to be successful. My wife was making a higher salary than me, so it made sense for me to be the main one dealing with their extracurricular activities, homework and other stuff. I loved it, but now I am wrecked.
My guy friends don’t have a clue about why I’m so upset. It’s a feeling, and it’s not good.
How can I snap out of it? My wife and I have a great relationship. It’s just me. I feel like I’m in mourning or something.
— Can’t Let Go

DEAR CAN’T LET GO: Congratulations on preparing your children to become independent. That is the job of a parent, and it sounds like you did it well.
Still, your emotions are real, and you should deal with them.
It can be difficult to see your children leave and start their lives while you are left at home. The sense of loss can be palpable and hard to manage.
You can try a few things to help you during this time of transition. Start dating your wife again. Schedule regular outings where you do fun things with each other and with friends. This can be surprisingly fun. Many couples do not spend much alone time together when the kids are at home.
Consider a hobby. Is there something you have wanted to do for a long time? Try it out. Enroll in a class. Take up a sport. Get up and get out!
You also should consider counseling. There’s no shame in talking to a professional about what you are feeling. A therapist can help you process what’s going on inside and give you strategies for dealing with your emotions during this tender time.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I am working for a startup that demonstrated a lot of promise a couple of years ago, but things have changed of late.
I still have my job, and my boss continues to say that everything is fine and that the company isn’t going anywhere. But I see a different story. They hired a ton of people earlier in the year and have laid off almost all of them now at year’s end.
I know some of the people weren’t very good at their jobs, but when a small team gets cut in half, that seems like a red flag.
I really like this company, but I worry that I won’t have a job in the next few months. Should I start looking now? They told me that we are on solid footing, but it doesn’t feel like it.
— Next Steps
DEAR NEXT STEPS: Trust your instincts. If it feels like the writing is on the wall, that’s probably because it is.
Continue to do your job to the best of your ability, but start looking around.
What companies need your skills and talents that may be more financially secure? Do your research. Go on a few interviews and suss it out. It’s smart for you to have options as you also do your best to help this company get on solid footing.
(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to askharriette@harriettecole.com or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)
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