Parents face a lot of obstacles and struggles throughout their journey of parenthood. Whether it be welcoming their first child into their life, potty-training, or teaching their kids to drive, there is a lot of stages of their child’s life that they prepare for and know what to expect. However, a lot of parents don’t know what to expect when the time comes for their young ones to leave the household and develop into adults themselves.
A lot of parents have a hard time transitioning into the stage of their lives where they are no longer “full time” parents. This is often referred to as “empty nest syndrome”. Empty nest syndrome refers to feelings of depression, sadness, and, or grief experienced by parents and caregivers after children come of age and leave their childhood homes. It is not a clinical condition, but rather a temporary period where one might experience a range of emotions, including sadness or loss. The experience of sending children off into the world can sometimes be painful, particularly for those who are resistant to change in general.
Symptoms fluctuate, but parents often feel a sense of grief, anxiety, and/or sadness. Sometimes parents can develop a loss of purpose when their children leave the nest, no longer finding themselves defined by their role as a parent. Parents dealing with other stressful events in their life are more likely to be effected.
Although women are more likely to experience this phenomenon than men, it has been documented in both genders. It is often especially hard for parents who are stay-at-home mothers or fathers, or who hinge a lot of their self-purpose as being a caretaker. Studies have shown that parents that maintain communication with their children after they leave the household have a greater psychological benefit and are less prone to feelings of sadness or loneliness than those who don’t. With the advancement of technology, this has become easier than in the past.
In addition to maintaining good communication with their children, there are other ways for parents to cope with their children flocking from home. Parents pursuing other hobbies and re-imagining themselves as more than caregivers are also good methods to lessening the burden of their children leaving. Often times, couples are able to focus more on their relationship once their children leave, reigniting their romance.
If you are struggling with letting go of your children and are unsure how to handle this transition, it is important to know that you are not alone. Many parents go through this every year. Whether you just need someone to talk to or listen, or you are really hurting emotionally, Good Therapy Counseling is here for all your needs through this often confusing and difficult time.