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Felice Shapiro

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Imagine: No Empty Nest

Posted: 04/07/2013 7:06 am

Imagine a World Without an Empty Nest?

There's a big change brewing that could really wreak havoc on our empty nesting cycle. We're talking about a move toward online learning -- imagine: your kid does not GO to college -- He does college from the comfort of your home!

Google away -- you can find plenty of stats supporting the trend away from brick and mortar schools and movement toward online learning. And this is not the future -- this is now. 2013 is predicted to be the year that online learning becomes the preferred method of getting a higher education degree.

"The public's interest in taking online classes has skyrocketed... With an apparent shift towards online education away from traditional classroom instruction predicted to shape the educational environment of 2013, the demise of "brick and mortar" schools will inevitably be a decisive factor shaping the future of online schools and the students who attend them."

Ok, so given the rise in online education (an increase of 100% in the past year), it is in fact possible that very soon kids will not be leaving the nest for college.

You weren't ready to let them go anyway, right? You were sad, and fantasized about keeping them around forever. Want to think that through again? With kids able to do college from their bedroom computers, parents may be looking at a very, very, very long four more years.

What would the new nest look like?

I can only imagine:


  1. Social Life: Hang on parents, partying is coming back into your home. Better increase your liability insurance. Don't plan on leaving the house EVER -- it's a few years until they hit 21, and even after they do, if they are living with you, you might be fully responsible if there are accidents in your home or if their friends bounce off trees when they leave drunk.

  2. Food: If you liked your family cooking routine before, that is good news -- because you'll be doing a whole lot more of it! Adult children are hungry critters and their feeding cycle can be 24/7. Unless you get your kid to start watching the Food Network and signing on for dinner duty -- embrace your inner cook.

  3. Cleaning House. How about a chore chart -- NOT! Just because your kids are going online at home doesn't mean they will readily adapt to your vacuuming, garbage removal and yard work routines. More likely, they won't have a clue that there's routine cleaning involved unless you put on your "outside voice" and read them the riot act.

  4. Privacy: Your child will demand theirs (of course) but you'll have none -- need I say more? Romance for you and your partner is last on the list.

  5. Re-connecting with your spouse: Get a room! You may have a tough time finding your spot on the couch between your kids, the dog and your beloved.

  6. What time is breakfast? 2pm? It doesn't really matter for the kids -- they make their own hours online so forget any structure. Have you ever experienced kids sleeping in late on a gorgeous day? Can you say "TORTURE"?

  7. Xtreme Sleep Overs? Date night has no time limits; it can go on for days... or months. Just because their "natural cycle" of leaving the nest has been tampered with -- A kid's gotta do what a kid's gotta -- You may not want a long-term guest, but you can be sure that your offspring will be asking.


You get the picture... and it ain't pretty! In this new age of learning, I say that parents should be careful what they wish for.

Read more from Better After 50:
Touring For Colleges With An Autistic Young Adult
Helping or Helicopter Parenting?
How to Avoid Empty Nest Syndrome
College Tripper

Earlier on Huff/Post50:

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  • Your House Is Clean

    Gone is the detritus of your children's lives scattered here and there, carelessly flung about and forgotten. Your bathroom towels will stay hung neatly on their bars, the dishes are placed in the dishwasher instead of left to sit next to the sink. Beds remain made, floors remain clean, clothes are neatly put away. Mystery spills vanish, and you never wake up to a mess. Who knew it could be like this?

  • You Discover You Still Like Your Partner...Or Make A Big Change

    Some couples decide that it's time to separate and move on, others remember why it was they fell in love in the first place -- or find new reasons and ways to connect to each other. Without your kids, you become each other's only companion when you're at home. <em>It can't be overstated how much of a distraction our kids are while they are growing up.</em> This is probably the most jolting part of the empty nest -- when you look at each other and think, "Oh wow, it's just us now." For better or worse, it will happen.

  • You Can Sleep Through The Night

    No longer are you waiting for the sound of a key in the door, or the porch light to be turned off upon your children's safe return from another night out. No longer are you part of the day-to-day ups and downs of your children's lives ... no matter how often they may text/call/email/facebook message/tweet you. Their mental and physical well-being, though still hugely important to you, are their responsibilities now, and you no longer have the minutiae of their daily lives to think about like you did when they lived at home.

  • You Food Bill Drops Significantly

    If your kids are in college, or even if they're not, you may still be paying for them to eat. But it's nice to go to the grocery store and come home with the things you want, and not have to buy all the things they want, things that you really don't want in your house.

  • You Have A Lot More Free Time

    Initially, this may be disturbing or difficult for you to deal with. You may want to do things you've missed -- museums, movies, theater, travel or you may not want to do much of anything at all. Whatever your thing is, there's now time to do it ... a lot of time.

  • You Can Spend Time With People You Like

    No longer do you have to socialize with other parents because of your children's connections. No more booster club barbecues or committee meetings, making small talk with people you most likely never would have crossed paths with if it weren't for the fact that your children were on the same team/in the same class/part of the same group of friends.

  • You Begin To Experience Your Children As Young Adults

    Your children leave home and, for better or worse, they have to grow up, no matter how much help you may be giving them financially OR emotionally. There are just too many daily things to manage, too many random people to deal with, too many bumps and blips that they have to encounter on their own that leads to them, inevitably and sometimes painfully, growing up. It can be liberating when kids take over, driving or planning or explaining -- giving up some authority is in many ways a big relief.

  • Your Kids Come To Visit...

    There's nothing quite as wonderful as seeing your kids after weeks or months apart, especially when they first go away to college. Their faces are familiar and beautiful, their smiles just for you, their laundry ready to be washed...it's such a thrill to have them home for holidays, or summers, or a weekend visit. Within minutes of their return, it's as though they never left. You love having them home for a while, but then...

  • ...Then They Go Back Where They Came From

    Enough said.

  • Your Future Is Yours

    Remember before kids, when you would dream and plan for the rest of your life? Remember when it was wide open, and you had no idea what would happen next? Well, you can do that again, now that you're an empty-nester. No longer do you have to worry about childcare, or kids missing school, or whether they'll like the place you pick to go on vacation -- your time, your future, and your life is yours to create. Always wanted to travel? Now you can. Go back to school? Now's the time. Write a book? Get cracking. You have your life to live, just as they have theirs. Go do it!

 

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