Are you worried about empty nest syndrome? An empty nest can affect some parents. Here’s what you can do to prepare for the transition and how to deal with it.
If your last child is an adult and about to leave home, or has already moved, you may experience mixed emotions. Here’s why empty nest syndrome happens and what you can do about it.
What is empty nest syndrome?
Empty nest syndrome is not a clinical diagnosis. Rather, it is a phenomenon in which parents experience feelings of sadness and loss when the last child leaves home. Although you can actively encourage your children to become independent, the experience of letting go can be painful. You may find it difficult to have no more children at home who need your care. You know that you will no longer be a part of your children’s daily life and will no longer be able to keep them company all the time.
Similarly, you might also worry about your children’s safety and their ability to care for themselves. You may find it difficult to make the transition if your last child leaves the nest a little earlier or later than expected. If you only have one child or identify strongly with your role as a parent, you may have a hard time adjusting to an empty nest.
What is the impact of empty nest syndrome?
In the past, research has suggested that parents facing empty nest syndrome experience a deep sense of loss that can leave them vulnerable to depression, alcoholism, identity crisis, and marital conflict.
Recent studies suggest that an empty nest may reduce work and family conflict, and may provide parents with many other benefits. When the last child leaves home, parents have a new opportunity to reconnect with each other, improve the quality of their marriage, and rekindle interests they may not have had time for before.
How to deal with empty nest syndrome?
If you feel a sense of loss because of empty nest syndrome, take action. For example, if you feel lost because of empty nest syndrome, take action:
– Accept the present moment
Avoid constantly comparing your child’s schedule to your own experience or expectations. Instead, focus on what you can do to help your child succeed when they leave home.
– Keep in touch
You can continue to be close to your children even when you live apart. Make an effort to maintain regular contact through visits, phone calls, emails, texts or video chats.
– Seek support
Share your feelings with loved ones and friends whose children have recently left home. Plan activities with couples who are in the same situation.
– Stay positive
Thinking about the extra time and energy you may need to devote to your marriage or personal interests after the departure of your last child could help you adjust to this major life change.
Can I prevent empty nest syndrome?
If your last child is about to leave home and you’re worried about empty nest syndrome, plan ahead. Look for new opportunities in your personal and professional life. Keeping yourself busy or taking on new challenges at work or home can help alleviate any feelings of loss that your child’s departure may cause.