How to survive ‘empty nest syndrome’

Recently U.S.A. President Barack Obama spoke with a crowd at a prayer breakfast in Washington. During an unguarded interaction with guests, he discussed a topic obviously close to his heart: the departure of his sixteen-year-old daughter, Malia. 

"I start tearing up in the middle of the day and I can't explain it, why am I so sad? They're leaving me," he admitted. "I want to thank everybody here for their prayers, which means so much to me and Michelle, particularly at a time when my daughters are starting to grow up and starting to go on college visits. I need prayer."

This psychological condition referred to as ‘empty nest syndrome’ is considered to be the a mix of experiencing depression, anxiety and emotional stress when your child leaves home and it is very common.

The departure process, referred to as 'launching', can have serious impacts on those left in 'the nest’. So it is important for parents to understand that transitioning to a new life requires time and a willingness to be a open to a new chapter. As new reports and studies indicate, recent social developments have led to a dramatic change in the modern family dynamic. 

Attitudes towards ‘the empty nest'
The ‘empty nest syndrome' is a real thing. But your reaction to it depends on the relationship that existed before the kids 'flew the coop'. Everyone deals with it differently. Some might be happy, but others will do whatever it takes to keep their kids coming back. For parents about to transition, the question remains: how can we move into a new happy life within the 'empty nest' when we are the ones left behind?

How to cope
According to experts the process associated with adjusting to the 'empty nest' can be long and challenging. However, thankfully there are some simple things you can do to help you through the process.

Be honest about how you are feeling. Speak with your partner and maintain communication with your children. Don’t withdraw from those you love.

Create new rituals and spaces. Living with children is something that you get used to one day at a time. So, this is also a time to create new feelings about your home. It doesn't have to be dramatic, but this positive outlook will help to 're-set' your feelings.

  1. Start a journal: This will help you reflect more clearly on your feelings and refocus.
  2. Don't make any sudden changes: Try not to make big life decisions until you've adapted to life without the kids.
  3. Increase exercise and personal interests: Exercise regularly and pursue an interest with your extra time. Don't over-do it and allow time for you to settle into a new, manageable routine.
  4. Spend more time with your partner: Now that you have extra time on your hands, you can explore new interests together.
  5. See your doctor if things are getting worse. Never be afraid to seek advice from a trained professional.

The 'boomerang' generation
Recent data suggest that the ‘empty nest syndrome’ is reflective of new attitudes towards living in the family home. Statistics indicate that a new trend is developing. Of adults aged 18 to 34, a whopping 39% admitted to either still living in the family home or just recently moving out. The study also showed it is the highest statistical representation of 'adult-aged kids living at home' since the 1950's! 

These kids are part of the 'boomerang generation' and a lot of them never really 'fly the coop'. After all, responsible parents, no matter how old their kids are, will always at least seek to be a part of their children's lives. That means always leaving the door open when needed. The good news is ultimately research suggests that parents are not necessarily negatively impacted by the departure of their children. Instead they are able to gain more independence and pursue more social and leisure activities - even if the 'boomerang' does often return.

How did you cope when you kids left home? Join our conversation below…