Before you even get into this article you should give yourself a hug. If you’re an empty nest parent, you’re going through a tough phase of life right now. If you’re the parent of an only child , you’re especially dealing with life adjustment . Reading articles about empty nest syndrome might leave you feeling even more empty than you did already. Most articles focus on hurrying the parent through this phase and dumping plenty of guilt in to make them feel foolish for their very normal feelings.
What happens to most of us is that we get so caught up in getting our kids ready to move away, that we forget to get ourselves ready. I’m not convinced that there’s really a way to prepare for the empty feelings a parent goes through when their child moves away. You can imagine it all day long but until your house is suddenly quiet and empty , it’s hard to know how you’ll feel. So many parents claim to feel relieved when their children move out. They claim they find themselves again and can focus on their own personal desires and achievements. I’m happy for those parents. While I’ve seen enough of it, I still don’t believe it’s how most parents feel. Most of us just aren’t that lucky.
If your child has recently moved out or away to college, you might be feeling very lost and lonely. You might find yourself looking at their empty bed at night and wondering how they are. You may even find it hard to fight back tears at times. Many people would tell you to get over it. There’s numerous articles that go on to tell parents not to call their children too often and most advise ways of making the gap bigger rather than finding ways to stay close. I’m not of that attitude. I believe this is the time to find every way you can to stay close to your child. I also think it’s very important to be very kind and loving to yourself and your spouse. It’s key to maintain the same closeness you always have with your partner. Give your spouse as much attention and support as possible and be open to them doing the same for you .
The first thing I’d suggest is setting up phone time. When your child moves away, they find it all too easy to get wrapped up in the partying and goings on. You may actually find it very hard to communicate with your child once they’ve moved away so it’s important to set up phone time before they’re gone. There’s not a thing in the world wrong with asking your child to call you once a day or once a night. If people would tell you that you’re suffocating your own child just by asking for a call, avoid those people. I find it utterly amazing how often I see advise that steers parents away from their natural feelings. Don’t fall into this trap! You’ve raised your child up to this point and you deserve the peace of mind that comes with a simple phone call. Don’t be afraid to ask for it!
If you’re reading this article, you probably have a computer. Your computer can be your best friend while you’re going through this empty nest syndrome. Make sure your child and you both have a good web cam. Set up email accounts and messenger services so that you can easily ask your child to turn on their cam and let you see them. It’s a joy to hear your child’s voice from far away and even more a joy to see their smiling faces. If your smart about this and make it a habit from the beginning, you may even get a decent nights sleep. Try it out before they move away and be sure you both know how to work things from your own end.
Another great way your computer can be useful is to have your child set you up on their friend networks. You’ll be able to log on to your computer and see what you children’s friends are all chatting about. Most networks allow users to upload pictures so you’ll be able to see their latest outings and all the fun things they’re doing. Remember to keep your i love you notes in private messages as to avoid embarrassment. A sneaky but useful tool in staying in touch this way is to purchase points or dollars in whatever network your child uses and keep them available to share with your child. This will give your child incentive to contact you more often.
Keeping in touch in any way that you can will help you all the way around with empty nest syndrome. Be open with your child and let them know that you’re going through a transitional phase of your life. Let them know that they can ease your suffering by just being understanding and staying in touch with you. Most importantly, be the parent you’ve always been. If it’s always been normal for you and your child to have a special day of the week together, keep it that way. You may not be able to go out and throw the ball but you can spend a half hour on the phone talking about all the fun you’ve had doing just that. People of all ages love to reminisce. This includes your child. The more you laugh and relax together the better.
Nothing will ever replace your child. If you’re going through empty nest syndrome, you know this all too well. With that said, a pet can be such a blessing at this time. Parents that are used to affection and company will benefit so much from the love of a family pet. It’s important to find a pet that will be suited to your environment. A Great Dane might not be a fine idea for parents living in a small apartment. The idea is just to have someone to love and show affection to. A pet will accept all the affection you’re willing to give them. Be sure you think it through and find the right pet for you and your spouse.
You’re going through some big changes. This is not the time to move or get a new job . Avoid making any other big changes in your life until you’ve adjusted to this one. Empty Nest Syndrome is very real. It can affect some parents in great ways. It’s very important to stay away from negative influences and rely on your own gut feelings. If you feel you need to reach out to your child, do so. If you feel you need the comfort of friends, find friends that will be able to relate or at least bite their tongues. Get hugs anytime you can. Give hugs as often or more often than they’re offered to you. Be kind to yourself and your spouse. Be extra kind to your child that’s moved away. Life is short but this time may seem long and trying to you. Communicate freely and often with your child and be the parent you want to be with them. Find comfort any place you can and share your love openly with the people you feel close to.