Empty nest syndrome is nothing to be afraid of.
If your last child is grown and gone—or about to leave home—you may be experiencing a phenomenon known as empty nest syndrome. ENS describes a group of emotions that can seem overwhelming.
But they don’t need to be.
Feelings of sadness and loss often accompany the last child’s move from home. Even though you actively encouraged your children to be independent, now that the time has come for them to move out and stand on their own two feet, you may decide you’re really not ready for them to leave.
That’s totally understandable.
You’ve spent the last eighteen or more years nurturing children and planning around them, and now it seems that they don’t need you anymore. It’s normal to miss being a part of your child’s daily life. Heck, you even miss their companionship!
Perhaps you’re concerned about your children’s safety out there in the world. You struggle with need. Your children have always needed your counsel, your care, your concern. How will they cope out there, all alone?
According to the Mayo Clinic, past research indicated that parents dealing with empty nest syndrome “experienced a profound sense of loss that might make them vulnerable to depression, alcoholism, identity crisis and marital conflicts.”
But research has changed.
More recent studies have suggested that the very absence of children in the home might actually provide parents with benefits. Your work load is reduced, your environment is calmer, and you have a chance to reconnect with your spouse in a way that has not been possible for many years. You can rekindle interests that may have lain dormant for a long time. You can improve your marriage!
Coping with empty nest syndrome.
Feeling lost or sad over your children leaving? Try doing something. For instance:
- Accept the timing. Remember that your child is unique, one-of-a-kind, and he or she has an individual timetable. He or she is not you, and your experience may not be the same as his or hers.
- Don’t lose touch. With the prevalence of technology, there’s really no reason that you can’t keep in touch. In addition to visits, you can call, email, text or even video chat. But give your child some space, too. Don’t overwhelm him or her by insisting on daily contact.
- Get support. Sharing your feelings with others dealing with the same symptoms can really help. You might try telling your family or close friends how you feel. Depression should be dealt with professionally, though, so if you’re feeling depressed, talk to your doctor.
- Stay upbeat. Accentuate the positive! Imagine all the time you have now to devote to your marriage and personal interests. Try new things.
Avoiding empty nest syndrome.
Anticipating the last child’s leaving can make you anxious. Plan for the time when he or she leaves. Look for new opportunities in your personal or professional life, and embrace the change. Keep yourself busy and you’re less likely to be overcome by feelings.
We’re building a community of like-minded individuals who can support each other and be a positive influence for those feeling overwhelmed. Join the conversation.