Empty Nest Syndrome refers to feelings of depression, sadness and/or grief that are experienced by parents when the children become of age to leave their childhood home. This can occur when children leave to attend college or get married. Women appear to have more difficulty with this transition than men but both have similar feeling of loss after the departure of their children.

Parent-child relationship

Empty Nest Syndrome is most common in the autumn when teenagers leave for college. It can also happen when a child gets married. Matrimony is a permanent launching stating parents are no longer needed as they were before. Research suggests that the quality of the parent-child relationship may have important consequences during this transition. The parents are now able to develop a friendship with the young adult which can reduce the conflict experienced in the developmental years. This new bond will also provide support for the parents when they face the health concerns of the elderly.

Parents should prepare for the empty nest while their children are still living at home. They can make specific plans for their extra time, money and space that will be available when the children are no longer dependent on you. Feelings of sadness are normal at this time. It you feel that you no longer have purpose, experience excessive crying or unable to perform your daily routine you should seek professional help.

A time of transition

A positive perspective at this time of your life is vital to the transition. Adjust your new role in your child’s life. The relationship now becomes more peer like as you give your child independence. You can schedule a weekly call-in time, email and text message things you’d like to share in-between visits.

Once you can look at this second half of your life as a new opportunity you will feel younger, be financially stronger, and have more time for friends, hobbies and your partner. Time and energy can now be spent in different areas of your life as you work together to turn the second half of your marriage into a time of discovery and joy.

Gina Heyen