Full Nest Syndrome: When You're Ready for Your Child to Move Out

Are you a full nester with adult children still living at home? Today, we'll help you know what to do if you're ready for them to move out.
Full Nest Syndrome: When You're Ready for Your Child to Move Out

Last update: 23 November, 2022

The duration and the way of living the different stages of life have changed considerably in recent times. In this regard, it’s not surprising that many young adults still depend on their parents in a symbolic and economic sense. At the same time, let’s not forget that life expectancy has increased significantly, and it’s not out of the ordinary for a person to live to be 90 or 95 years old. As a result of these changes, full nest syndrome phenomenon is becoming more and more common.

This situation brings about conflictive scenarios in homes where all the cohabitants are already adults. As a result, parents feel a sense of discomfort and anger. This is when they ask themselves the unavoidable question: When will my kids finally move out?

Reasons for the delay in family emancipation

It would be very unfair to blame young adults for this situation, as we must keep in mind that they’re also part of a society with certain characteristics and problems. Sometimes, they don’t leave home because they don’t want to, but other times, external circumstances don’t allow them to do so. In this regard, both parents and children have a terrible time and the feeling of frustration is rather shared.

A study explains that, in Europe, young Spaniards are the ones who delay leaving home the most. It also mentions the most common reasons for this behavior:

  • Material and economic reasons: Either for lack of stable and well-paid employment or because housing is very expensive and there aren’t many apartments for rent.
  • Extensive academic training: Many young adults choose to move out of the family home once they’ve completed their undergraduate and graduate studies, which are increasingly longer in duration.
  • Prolonged adolescence or Peter Pan syndrome: Living in the family home may also be due to the desire to maintain the benefits of being a teenager cared for by their parents.
  • Overprotection: Many young people receive financial allowances from their parents despite having a stable job. Also, their parents accompany them to medical appointments and interfere in other aspects of their lives as well. In this case, it’s the parents who have a hard time letting them fly the nest.
A woman with full nest syndrome wondering when her adult son will move out.
Generally, adult children stay in the family home for economic or material reasons, but also because of the syndrome of prolonged adolescence.

Empty nest, full nest…

Surely you’ve heard the term empty nester at some point. It refers to the psychological and emotional aftermath that occurs in parents once their children leave the family home. Although not all people experience it in the same way, it’s common for feelings of sadness and loneliness to appear. For example, the idea of not having a clear and powerful enough life purpose to hold on to during later adulthood.

Changes in social representations, economic crises, and bonding transformations explain the delay in personal and professional fulfillment among young adults in Western cultures. Building a more autonomous lifestyle doesn’t seem to be among their priorities. Consequently, it results in their parents experiencing full nest syndrome.

Therefore, young people prefer to maintain as long as possible a carefree lifestyle in order to travel, save money, or avoid the risks and responsibilities of adult life.

“One of the messages that young people receive is: Take advantage of the present,
enjoy, be happy […] These messages are one of the reasons why young people
cannot put their interest in consolidating their independence. How can they work
to pay rent, take care of food and clothes, and also have time and
money to go out, buy drinks, travel, and purchase brand-name objects? Something will have to
be given up, and that something is independence”.

– Moreschi –

The point is that young people are no longer so seduced by flying the nest, even if they’re able to take flight. This is when cohabitation begins to break down and the parents start to feel invaded, limited, or annoyed. And what happens when several large birds live together in a nest that’s not suitable for so much weight? If the nest is full, it runs the risk of falling apart.

An older adult with his head in his hands as his son moves out.
A full nest often makes it difficult for parents and their adult offspring to live together. Parents may feel invaded, annoyed, or frustrated, so they await the moment when their adult children will finally move out.

I enjoy spending time with you, but it’s time for you to leave home

When our children are young, we worry about the day when they won’t cuddle as much or choose to sleep in their own little bed all night long. At the same time, it makes us uncomfortable to know that at some point, they’ll prefer to go out with their friends instead of staying at home with us. Therefore, it makes us nostalgic to discover that they don’t need us as much anymore. For example, the first time they enter school without even saying goodbye leaves us speechless. How nostalgic it is to see their newborn photos now that they’re already taller than us!

However, this doesn’t mean that we’d really like to keep them close to us forever. Not because we don’t love them or aren’t happy to share time with them, but because letting them fly away often goes hand in hand with reconnecting with one’s own independent life. It’s funny, but now we want to do what we’ve been dreading: Allow them to spread their wings and begin their own independent life.

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