There’s a new twist to the empty nest syndrome these days.

Parents know that one day the children will grow up and leave home, but the vision they hold is that this will happen after they have finished school.

By this time they may have avoided some of the pitfalls of the real world, and should be more prepared to function on their own.

Increasingly, however, teens at sixteen and seventeen are deciding that they do not need the hassle of parental guidelines and expectations, and are deciding to leave home.

This is devastating to parents, if not terrifying. Very few young people have even the faintest idea of what it takes to live independently.

Often raised in an atmosphere of sufficiency, if not abundance, it looks to them as though life is not really that tough.

They are quite willing, initially, to give up material comforts in exchange for freedom. They may not realize that they are trading short term gain, for long term pain.

Had they chosen to stick it out at home, they could be on their own in a few years anyway.

By leaving early, they may be depriving themselves of the support and resources required in today’s world to build a future for themselves.

Often they have to quit school in order to work enough hours to pay the rent. Without even having completed high school, they may be dooming themselves to a life of poverty.

But if they know someone else who has moved out this kind of logic is wasted on them.

They become mesmerized by the idea of not having to be accountable to anyone, not even themselves.

It can be hard to accept that this is their choice, especially when we know that they do not see the implications of their choice.

So what are parents to do? Let them know that if they change their minds, and are ready to live according to the family rules, and you feel that you can trust them, that you would welcome them back.

Then leave them alone, and let them figure out how to deal with this freedom. Do not rescue them, or support them in a lifestyle that goes against your beliefs.

Let them know you love them, but when the going gets rough, remind them gently that this is what they chose.

Gwen Randall-Young is an author and award-winning Psychotherapist.