No, none of my children is leaving the nest yet. Luckily, they are still not that old. Though it won’t take long before they grow up and turn into young adults. I’m dreading that moment. How am I going to cope with that, if at the moment I’m struggling to cope with one of my children leaving the nest for just a week?
Empty nest syndrome, the profound sadness that can come when children grow up and move out, is usually associated with mothers. But, men also experience grief when the last child departs–a problem that can be compounded by other issues. At the same time as kids leave home, careers tend to start leveling off. And suddenly, there is an abundance of time with the spouse –which isn’t always positive.
As Wayne Parker points out, the biggest challenge of being an empty-nester has little to do with the separation from the child, and everything to do with a need to redefine the relationship between the parents. Some spouses report that, because so much of family life has for twenty years or more revolved around children, they no longer have much in common. Sometimes their relationship have devolved into simply the relationship of a mother and a father; with the children no longer occupying center stage, they might need to work through some critical relationship issues.
Tips for Surviving the Empty Nest Experience
Recognize the reality of change. It is helpful to remember that moving into the empty nest stage of life is a major change, but it is one that has both positives and negatives. Accepting the reality of this new transition and knowing some of the changes to expect is helpful.
Focus on relationships. Now that the demands of parenting in your immediate family are less, it is good to remember that life is about relationships. Spend time with your partner and other friends. You can’t just decrease the time you spend on your relationship with your son or daughter; you have to add time to other important relationships.
Take care of yourself. You might have put a lot of things on hold for yourself as you have cared for your family. With some additional time, it’s smart to create a little more time for yourself. Get your exercise regime back; maybe rediscover an old hobby/interest or travel a little more. It’s a great time for refreshing, and you deserve it.
Make a dream list. Sit down and make a list of things you have dreamed about doing during the active parenting years and prioritize. Maybe it’s time for the trip to Hawaii or the new fly rod.
From Huffington Post
Keep connected to the kids. You don’t stop being a dad when the kids are no longer at home; the roles just change. Email the kids (and grandkids when they come) periodically to stay in touch. Exchange digital photos or videos. Send care packages to the college kids; they will appreciate the extra touch.
Consider volunteering. There are so many worthwhile organizations in your community where your talents can be used. If you really miss your connection with your teenagers, consider the Scouting program, Boys and Girls Clubs or the Big Brothers group. Your local elementary school would really appreciate your help with childhood literacy.
Empty nesting can be a challenging time, but being prepared and having a game plan for making it through this natural transition can ease the pain and help you find new opportunities for growth and fun. Take the most out of it before:
From Empty Nest Syndrome
- Overcoming Loneliness When Your Children Leave the Nest
- How to recover from Empty Nest Syndrome
- Dads and the Empty Nest
- It’s not only women who dread an empty nest… A fascinating new book uncovers one of the last taboos among men
- Father’s Empty Nest