By: Rajesh Konnur
Life is a bio-psycho-social change. Change occurs in every part of life. Gradual changes in social life process are the main focus of new era. Every individual has to pass through his/ her life stage cycle.
The departure stage in the family phase is when grown children leave home, also known as the period of ‘launching children’. Parents launching their last child go through what is usually known as the “empty nest”.
The Empty Nest as a Twenty First Century Phenomenon:
Most of the theorists, assume that empty nest period is inaugurated when the youngest child turns 18 or when a particular launching event occurs, such as marriage or graduation or leaving home and staying far away from parents due to socio-educational conditions. In simple way, it refers to as a “letting go” of the children or having them “leave home”.
Empty Nest Syndrome is described as a feeling of grief, loneliness parents may feel when children leave home. It can also result in depression, loss of purpose, feelings of rejection, worry and stress and anxiety over children welfare. Other contributory factors are an unstable or unsatisfactory marriage, sense of self based primarily on identity as a parent or difficulty in accepting a change.
Parents also dealing with stressful life events like menopause, death of a spouse, retirement are more likely to experience the syndrome.
Research studies have shown that parents whose children leave home do not necessarily experience the grief associated with empty nest syndrome, majority experience increased marital happiness and more leisure time.
- Feeling Sad: Sadness is always a common perception in parents at the beginning of their child’s departure. However, this sadness will be reduced by busy daily life activities and by responsibilities.
- Loving Children: Missing loving children during meals is also one of the important emotions of empty nest syndrome.
- Anxiety & Denial: Worry, sadness, skipping meals is all symptoms of empty nest syndrome.
Coping with Empty Nest Syndrome:
Rediscover the love of your life:
This period can be challenging if a couple discovers that there are problems with their relationship they have not faced because having children around helped to cement their relationship. It can also be that after being parents for so long, they have forgotten how to be lovers. This is a time to talk honestly & openly about the direction of the relationship together & decide what happens next.
If the children were the only bonding force in your marriage, you both may need to work on your own relationship to restore what has been neglected.
Remember the past and look forward to the future:
Develop the mindset that you expect your spouse to have changed somewhat. You have both aged since meeting and been through many experiences that you did not envisage when you first fell in love. With time, people become clever about their likes, dislikes, preferences etc. Trying to see this as an opportunity to discover each other’s “new” selves can be a fruitful way to revive a flagging relationship.
Allow time for your relationship to blossom anew. Sometimes, none of this will patch up the reality that you’ve grown apart. If you realize that your relationship is beyond repair, talk it through, seek report at counseling clinics, pray together, and serve the Lord and His people together.
Talk to your child. Your child is probably feeling anxious and uncertain about his/ her new life, too. Reassure them of your love and support. If you feel that you have made mistakes or have regrets about your past approach to parenting, talk to your child about these feelings honestly and work to resolve guilty feelings.
Talk to your partner. Be honest about the emotions you are experiencing. Strive to be as sensitive to your spouse’s needs as he or she is to yours.
Respect your child’s new independence. Be proud of his or her achievements and maturity. Aim to be supportive, but give your adult child room to grow and learn from his or her mistakes.
Focus on the future, not the past. While it is important to cherish happy memories, anticipate even happier times to come, such as when you may become a grandparent.
Reconnect with your partner. Now that you are alone again, take advantage of the opportunity to spend time together and “date” again.
Stay active. Get involved in hobbies and activities. Try to exercise regularly and keep fit. Consider volunteering or going back to school to learn new skills. Use your time productively and creatively.
Join an empty nesters support group. Get to know others going through the same transitions you are, and share your stories and feelings.
Stay disciplined with money. With one less person in the house, you may have extra money. If you are not careful, this extra money can be frittered away quickly. Review your savings and investments and take steps to make sure you are on track with your retirement planning.
If feelings of sadness, anxiety or depression persist, contact a professional counselor.