The Empty Nest Syndrome (ENS) refers to the feelings of melancholy and loneliness that parents experience after their children leave home to pursue independent living. It’s a time of transition for both parents and children, as their lives change forever. But experts say that empty nest syndrome does not have to be a time of depression, but a positive experience full of excitement, adventure, and new relationships.
See What These Experts Say about Empty Nest Syndrome
Malisa Rader, human sciences specialist at Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, says that empty nesters should view this new stage of life as an adventure. Think of it as moving to a new place, and let yourself come to terms with your new life without the kids.
Jeffrey Arnett, developmental psychologist and author suggests that parents do feel a sense of loss when their kids move out. Rather than dwelling on their grief, they should celebrate their children’s independence, and let themselves experience their first sense of true freedom in years.
Karen l. Fingerman, PhD and associate professor at Purdue University says that empty nest syndrome is not experienced in the way that most people think. Through her research, she discovered that empty nesters celebrate their freedom, become closer to their spouses, rediscover their own interests and set new goals.
Victoria Bedford, PhD, associate professor in the School for Psychological Sciences and the Center for Aging and Community at the University of Indianapolis found that after children left home, parents renewed their relationships with their brothers, sisters and old friends.
Helen M. DeVries, PhD and associate professor of psychology at Wheaton College didn’t experience the empty nest in the typical way. She didn’t view her childrens’ leaving in a negative light but looked forward to new opportunities in her future.
Sarah D. Mount of Desert Parkway Behavioral Healthcare Hospital conducted research on the empty nest syndrome, and discovered that the emotional turbulence of ENS has decreased through the years. Modern parents now see this as a positive time of self-discovery, self-care, and freedom to pursue new activities, and kindle their relationships.
How to Cope with the Empty Nest Syndrome
If you have children who will be leaving home soon, and you’re worried about how you’ll cope with the empty chair at the dinner table, start making the transition ahead of time. According to an article by Guy Winch, PhD in Psychology Today, the following tips can help you make the transition to an empty nester without too much emotional turmoil.
- Think about your role in life as a parent, a friend, a sibling, a business owner or an employee.
- Look inward to see yourself beyond being a parent?
- Rekindle relationships or find new companionship.
- If you’re a single parent, think about dating.
- Get involved in community events.
- Look for places to meet new people with interests similar to your own.
If you’re an empty nester or soon to be one, celebrate your new life. Take pride and joy in the fact that you taught your children well, and they’re ready to live responsible, adult lives. Enjoy your new found freedom and live your life to the fullest.