|Ryan flying to college|
Lately, I’ve been working with and meeting several women who are experiencing “empty nest syndrome.”
Before I go on, I should explain what “empty nest syndrome” is…basically, it is the feeling of loneliness or depression that parents experience when their children are grown and leave home.
I think what surprises me that although many of us have heard about it through the media- it still takes us by surprise. I guess part of the reason is that we don’t talk about our feelings. Plus, there are so many elements that we are unprepared for and don’t realize these feelings are related to our kids leaving home. When I think about “loneliness and depression,” I immediately see the commercials for anti-depressants- I can easily say, “Well, that’s not me.” The reality is that the feelings that come with “empty nest syndrome” can be subtle. It may start with a feeling of regret or loss. A woman I know shared that it was hard to get out of bed now. She no longer had to get up and make breakfast and scurry the children to school. Now, she only had to take care of herself. I, personally, dealt with a barrage of “what ifs”…“What if I had done this” or “What if I had done it that way instead.” The truth is we are not perfect; we all made mistakes or missed opportunities, so what are we going to do now? We have a whole new second life ahead of us! My husband and I actually moved across the country and started grad school- something we had wanted to do for years. Another person I know decided to pursue her dream of being a master gardener and sharing her talent with others.
Lutjens (1999) shares four points that can help you in this period of your life:
· Recognize the seasonal nature of parenting. Mothers and fathers should view their children as Renaissance artists, trained in their hometowns to benefit other communities. As a result, parents should start releasing their kids from birth onward.
· Get a life even before the child leaves home. Involvement in ministry, friendships and hobbies can keep parents from becoming child-centered.
· Grieve the pain of the empty nest. Single parent or not, it hurts when children leave home. Don't skip the mourning process, or bigger problems might crop up later.
· Tell children about the pain without making them responsible for it. Say, "I miss you," not, "Look at how you've hurt me."
Here’s a short video that gives some good helpful tips… be warned though it is kinda corny.
Let me know what you are doing now in this second half of your life. Are you pursuing a dream that you always but had put off?
Lutjens, G. (1999). Empty nest or emptiness. Troubled with: A website of focus on the family. Retrieved August 12, 2010 from http://www.troubledwith.com/Transitions/A000000630.cfm?topic=transitions%3A%20empty%20nest