It’s a normal passage of every parent’s life. Their child- now a young adult- leaves the nest for grown-up life. Whether the kid leaves home to go to college, get married, start a job, or just runs away like I did at the age of 18 (was I still a kid then?) it’s a major life change. It can be an exciting time for the young-un, (that’s boomer-speak for young person) and a difficult time for the parents. By the time your baby gets to the ripe old age of 22 and graduates college, you’d think you’d be ready for the next chapter. No more laundry drop-offs, no more college-size tuition payments or gas money emergencies. Now you can focus on sharing your empty nest with your still-hot spouse. It’s part of the the circle of life, right?
It can be an exciting time for the young-un, and a difficult time for the parents.
Don’t get me wrong- I’m looking forward to hiking, biking and traveling the world with my husband, fulfilling our bucket list. But all that excitement doesn’t mask the feelings I discovered following our daughter’s graduation party. My youngest is all grown up, making a life of her own, and doesn’t need my unsolicited advice anymore. Woe-is-me. I thought I might be getting “Empty Nest Syndrome“, a well-known condition that afflicts many parents when their kids flee the coop. Once I stopped sniffling I remembered that this is an opportunity for us “Empty Nest” parents to celebrate!
According to a survey by Carin Rubenstein, PhD, about 10 percent of moms are crippled by this syndrome that includes depression and loss of a sense of purpose. Rubenstein wrote Beyond the Mommy Years: How to Live Happily Ever After…After the Kids Leave Home.
Another study by Christine M. Proulx, PhD, shows there’s an upside to the end of the era of taking responsibility for your kids’ lives. According to her research, most of you parents experience several cool and positive changes including:
- Pleasure over the way your child has grown up and matured
- Deepening friendship with your child as you enter a new type of relationship
- Enjoying their adventures, as well as your own
- Improved mood and a sense of well-being since you have fewer daily parenting responsibilities
Other benefits of having fewer, if any, children to care for every day include:
- An opportunity for you and your partner to focus on each other more- did I say “still hot”?
- Time to travel and do activities that you have put aside because of your children
- A chance to explore a new hobby or get involved with a cause
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