Overcoming Empty Nest Syndrome
The cycle of life demands that at some point in our lives, we all leave home. Children grow up and eventually make the decision to go out on their own and make their own path. While this process is an important part of life, the act of leaving home sometimes causes what is known as “empty nest syndrome” in parents.
What do we do when our children leave home? How can we return to living alone with our partner after living so long with more people in the house? How can we avoid feeling ‘old’? These are some of the questions parents face when their child leaves home.
Those with empty nest syndrome usually experience negative thoughts and feelings, such as uncertainty, sadness, and nostalgia. This phenomenon presents itself in parents when their children leave home. All of a sudden, they find themselves alone after such a long time caring for and educating their child(ren).
Although these feelings are normal and usually pass, they can become a problem when, instead of gradually lessening with time, they take on a chronic quality. Furthermore, they can be exacerbated when you are overly aware of the arrival of the “third age” and things associated with it like menopause or andropause.
It is extremely important on the one hand to talk about what is happening to parents as individuals when their children leave home and how this can affect their marriage.
It’s not that parents who experience empty nest syndrome are not happy for their children when they marry and/or generally find their independence, but rather, they’re simply having a difficult time facing an empty house and a change in routine.
Let’s say the average person moves out to start their own family at 30 years old. That is a whole three decades since the parents have been completely alone together (assuming they are still married). A lot has happened in that time.
So, what we see is a rediscovery between a couple, a period of reliving a bygone era that happened a long time ago that perhaps has been long forgotten. This can be difficult to navigate because both people have matured and changed a lot since the beginning, when there were no children yet to worry about.
Therefore, it’s better to start this new routine without children joyfully instead of starting it full of sadness or longing. Sure, it’s hard at first, but ç’est la vie. Parents were children once, too, and they also left home.
We cut the umbilical cord when a child is born, but we develop other, stronger bonds as our children grow. Continuing to treat your children like children after they have grown up makes their moving out that much harder.
How can you overcome empty nest syndrome?
Below are some of our recommendations to help you overcome empty nest syndrome:
- Adopt a new perspective on the situation. Instead of focusing so heavily on the negative aspects of the situation, look for the positive. For example, think of your child(ren)’s wellbeing; if they are happy, you should be happy for them!
- Reinforce your relationship with your partner. This is the moment to strengthen your relationship through activities together that you may have postponed because you had kids.
- Express your feelings. It is always appropriate to verbalize what you are feeling, and sometimes communicating them to your loved ones can help you overcome them.
- Do things that make you happy. Sometimes we postpone doing things we want to do because of life’s demands. Now is the moment to get up and do them. It will help distract you from those negative feelings and realize that life goes on.
- Improve your relationship with your kid(s). Maybe their moving out will help lubricate the communication between you and help you foster a healthy, happy relationship.
It’s important for us to remember that our relationship with our kids doesn’t end just because they move out. It just becomes different, and you have to keep working on it just like any other relationship.