When planning to expand our family, there are a bunch of services, workshops, and classes at our disposal, but has anyone ever talked to you about the day your kids will grow up and leave your home? For many years, parents raise and prepare their children for independent living, but when the moment of separation from home comes, many parents feel sadness, anxiety, and loneliness - feelings known as the empty nest syndrome. In order for you to know more about this phenomenon, its symptoms, how to identify a person who is experiencing it and how it can be dealt with and even prevented, you are invited to read the following article.
The phenomenon of children leaving the "family nest" is natural and within the feelings of joy that your child is all grown up, lie feelings of sadness, since we know they probably aren’t coming back, at least not in the same capacity. The resulting void in the lives of many parents causes them to lose joy in life, and feel deep sadness, anxiety, and loneliness; It's okay and logical to shed some tears in the first few days, but people who continue to behave this way over time are said to suffer from empty nest syndrome and need support.
It is important to know that although parents who experience this aren’t suffering from what would be considered a mental disorder or clinically diagnosed, this problem is still very real for them and may cause unpleasant and even dangerous situations. The sudden disappearance of the need to carry out the daily activities they were used to, and the feeling that they no longer have anyone to worry about can make them feel lost. Furthermore, the thought that they may not have done enough for their children and didn’t spend enough time with them burdens them. Fortunately, there are some things you can do to prevent this situation and treat it.
Some parents have a very close relationship with their child, and when they leave the family home, it is easier for them to focus on their child’s life rather than on their own lives. For those who aren’t used to living without their child at home, it is recommended to find employment, revive an old hobby or get involved in social activities throughout the week such as yoga, art classes, taking a few classes at the community college or any other social gathering. They must understand that just as their child has embarked on a new journey for which they have prepared them for their whole lives, they too must begin their own journey, filling the void created with new interests, regardless of their child's schedule. Setting new goals in their lives will give them a reason to get up in the morning and enjoy every passing day.
You’ve probably heard of cases in which couples separated or divorced after the children left the nest, this phenomenon usually occurs because the couple finds that they have nothing in common with each other except their children. It is true that when children are young, life revolves around education, imparting values and raising them, but it doesn’t have to come at the expense of each partner's personal life. To avoid such cases, you should work on your relationship even a few years before your children leave the nest: find common interests, hobbies and anything else you both connect to. Don’t forget that one day your kids will grow up and leave. All that will be left is a house full of silence and your partner, therefore, you need to learn to connect with that person once more. So find the time and effort, go out on date nights, restore the passion you had for each other in the past and strengthened the connection between you, so that you are left with a strong and stable relationship after your kids leave.
Not all parents experience the same feelings when the last child leaves the house, in fact, it is more likely that each partner will have different emotional experiences. One partner might be more engaged in their job, while the other might sink into him/herself, without anyone noticing that they are suffering from empty nest syndrome. In order to not fall into this rut of sadness, you need to share your feelings with your spouse unashamed. If one partner turns to the other and shares what he or she is going through after the children leave the nest, listen to them and show some empathy, let them express their feelings without judgment, and suggest doing activities with them that will help them get through this crisis.
Remember that providing mutual support is the key to creating a new and harmonious life for both of you by reinforcing the relationship. There are times when both spouses are emotionally unavailable to take in the explosion of emotions resulting from children flying the coop, creating a situation where they can’t support each other – the solution to this is seeking out professional treatment. Know that you do not need to feel embarrassed or apologize for having trouble with this separation - everyone receives it differently. If you experience loneliness, deep sorrow, or depression following separation from your children and you have difficulty sharing these feelings with your partner, you should ask for professional help.
Many parents whose children have already left home often debate about when the best time for contacting their child is. There are those who will constantly text and call them several times a day - all without realizing that they are undermining their child's independence, while others will prefer to do so every three days to a week. It's important to know that you shouldn’t feel uncomfortable calling your children when you need something or just to find out what's going on, just make sure that’s it’s in good taste in terms of quantity. Give them space and make them want to initiate contact - for example, talking once every three days to a week will allow both of you to look forward to it. Let them feel comfortable calling whenever they want and be attentive whenever they need you. Setting a schedule will create a healthier relationship, avoiding the tension surrounding the question "When is the best time to call?" and will mainly help you to have a healthy relationship with your newly independent children.
Some of the painful feelings mentioned above don’t stem from selfish motives as some people tend to think, but from the fear that their children are not yet ready to deal with the world. To remove this fear, prepare them for this moment and teach them how things work in the real world; Explain to them about dealing with banks, payments, salaries and more. Let them initiate their own opportunities when they are young and earn money; provide them with basic skills like cooking, washing and folding clothes, and so on. Even if it's frustrating, know that the act of preparing them for this time is also preparing yourself or at least making the transition easier. Calm down and remind them that your door is always open to them, that you are there for them at all times, unconditionally. Your children knowing this will provide for a stronger and closer bond with them.
Besides for birthdays and holidays, which are often riddled with tension and fights, there are more than enough days in the year where you can hold family gatherings to create real connections. For example, try to set a day that is agreed upon by everyone at least once every month or two, when you will all meet together, sit in a restaurant, take a walk, or just have a meal at home. Initiate these gatherings by deciding when to meet through a family WhatsApp group.
It’s true that a pet isn’t a substitute for your child, but if you raise an animal that can give warmth and love before the last child leaves the nest, you might not feel so alone - your schedule will be full again and you will have someone to take care of. Taking care of a pet will distract you from the void created by a child leaving the nest.