Is empty nest syndrome a real psychological condition to be reckoned with or just a natural process of life? Well, it's both.
With September approaching, many teenagers will be leaving the nest and parents will be left with mixed feelings that are sometimes difficult to manage. Empty nest syndrome is a psychological condition experienced by parents when their coming-of-age children leave home (the nest) for college or even when they get married. The symptoms that parents suffer are typically feelings of sadness, anxiety and excessive worry over the welfare of their child. Some parents experience a deep sense of loneliness, isolation and many feel a loss of purpose in life. Suddenly, they are thrust into a new world where they may feel inadequate and ill-equipped to cope with the void of not having children to care for. All of these feelings are of course very natural.
The parents that are most affected by empty nest syndrome are stay-at-home parents or full-time parents that may not necessarily have any career obligations at the time of the child's departure. Parents who have tied their identities to caretaking and nurturing as their primary role in life for many years are also particularly susceptible. Parents that have a rocky or perhaps an unstable marriage could also be more adversely affected by empty nest syndrome.
Here are 7 tips to ease the impact of empty nest syndrome:
1) Remind yourself that it's very normal to feel sad during this transition. Your deep attachment to your child only indicates the positive quality of your love for him/her. It's healthy to miss them.
2) Redefine your children's departure as a new beginning instead of a loss or sad ending. Reframe the change as an opportunity for you to start a new life and do many of the things you were unable to do while you were raising your children.
3) Stay connected to your kids via email, texting and social networks such as Facebook. Remember that you can also video chat via Skype, etc.
4) Don't be hesitant to lean on friends and colleagues for support, especially the ones that have also been through empty nest syndrome themselves. You'll be pleasantly surprised to see how compassionate your friends can be.
5) Initiate self-care and do nice things for yourself on a routine basis. Get a massage, take a yoga class or an art class at a local college. Take a small vacation, tend to your garden, go to the gym, etc.
6) Don't try to accelerate your recovery period. Allow the grieving process to occur and run its course. Don't make any major changes in your life during this time, like selling the house or moving to another city or state. You may also consider going to a family counselor for guidance and support.
7) Do volunteer work with a local organization of your choosing. Get involved in helping others and focus your attention on trying to make their lives better. It will make you feel purposeful again.