Our children have always been our pride and joy. Though we recognize that they are not perfect, in many respects they are perfect to us. We experience many feelings throughout our children’s life – pride in their academic and athletic achievements, anxiety over illnesses or grades, satisfaction with the maturity levels they accomplished as young adults.
And there does come a time when we have to let them go and become adults. As we meet different milestones in our lives, our children do too. We may settle into a lovely retirement community, while our children take the next step in their life, moving out of the house for good once they finish school.
As our children become independent and pretty much self-reliant, we, as parents begin to feel a melancholy sense of loss. We did our best to raise them to be responsible adults with good morals. But they will always be our children, and as our glance lands on a picture of the kids when they were little, and we think, “Where has the time gone? How did we get from skinned knees to Wall Street interviews? How did our children go from being babies to having babies?” It seems too much, too fast.
Empty Nest Syndrome
When the last child leaves home, we often experience a sense of loss, of emptiness, and we refer to this as “Empty Nest Syndrome.” Although there is no clinical diagnosis for this feeling, it is very real to many parents, and it can manifest itself in different ways to different individuals. For many, this can lead to depression, alcoholism, a feeling of heart-ache and sadness.
It’s important during this period of your life to stay strong and seek support from your family and friends. If you can’t get much relief from family and friends, you may have to seek professional help, since you may be suffering from depression.
Empty nest syndromes are especially hard for single parents or parents of only children. It is important to reestablish normalcy in your life and to resume your hobbies and traditions. If you are married, rekindle that relationship and enjoy spending time together. For single parents, consider revitalizing your social life and scheduling an exotic trip.
Having an “empty-nest” can force you to rediscover yourself and redefine what is important to you as an adult. Enjoy the adult relationships you have with people in your life (including your children!) and plan fun activities, such as an exciting vacation – your first of many as an empty-nester!