Empty nest syndrome? Is it something parents should be afraid of?

There will come a time in a parent’s life when their (now adult) children will leave the boundaries of home and start living their own lives – whether independently or with a partner/spouse. While most parents would be thoroughly overjoyed for the newfound ‘freedom’, there are some that feel the complete opposite and there is a term for that.

Though it might sound like it at first, Empty Nest Syndrome is not a mental disorder or clinical diagnosis but a phrase that describes the distress and other complicated emotions that parents often experience when their children leave home. Women are the most affected by the event because where there once was a hive of activity, foot traffic and the odd scolding throughout the home, the only real ‘noise’ now comes from parents talking to one another.

Because there is now so much time available that there previously wasn’t, feelings of anxiety and sadness will become more frequent and that will usually result in regular phone calls and texts, even unannounced visits. Of course mothers will always worry about their children and wellbeing – are they safe? have they eaten? – because they have become so accustomed to fulfilling those responsibilities over the years and phases of their children’s lives without a second thought.

Research suggests that some parents are more vulnerable than others and don’t handle it very well, while psychologists suggest that it may take between 18 months and two years for a mother to fully accept the transition that their kids have moved out.

Gumtree lists a few ways in which to better cope with Empty Nest syndrome:

Keep busy

The less one thinks of something, the better. With all the free time that is available, it gives rise to do something that there was never time for previously like a hobby or starting a small business, for instance. Not only is it a welcome distraction, but can also become part of daily life and reverse roles where the kids will start reaching out more frequently.

Speak to someone

This does not necessarily mean talking to a psychologist, as the phrase would usually suggest, but instead maybe your spouse or family member that you’d feel comfortable with. Something as simple as talking can do the world of good, instead of keeping conflicting emotions bottled up and that can lead to physical issues.

Stay in touch

Your child merely lives in another area and with the wonders of modern technology, it is very easy to keep in touch. Also, if they have a little one (your grand child) that needs to be looked after while they are at work, the house will be busy again with a different type of noise.

Like they say ‘Life goes on’ and moving out on your own is considered a part of life. If anything, parent’s should be proud of the fact that their kids are venturing alone into what life has in store, as it means that both mom and dad have done their job of equipping them with the proper mindset needed to succeed.

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