What is the Empty Nest Syndrome?
The moment a child leaves home can be very difficult for the parents. A common issue is empty nest syndrome, which we'll explain in this article.
A mother and her child are united by a close and unique bond. However, there is a time in life when children leave home, for whatever reason. At this time, mothers may suffer from the well known empty nest syndrome.
When children leave home, both mothers and fathers can show physical and emotional symptoms. These are caused by the emotional rollercoaster from having to face the fact that their young children are already adults and intend to go out in search of their own destiny.
Empty nest syndrome is more common in women, but can occur in men as well. In addition, this disorder is more visible in Western societies, in which the elderly usually live alone. Not so in Asia or Africa, where they’re cared for by younger generations who they usually live with.
Symptoms of Empty Nest Syndrome
Not all people experience them equally, since they don’t occur with the same intensity in everyone. Each person is different and has his or her own way of perceiving, interpreting and responding to problems.
Among the many emotions that parents who suffer from empty nest syndrome can go through are:
It’s a logical and understandable consequence. Parents are closing a stage in their lives that they understand will never happen again. Therefore, it’s totally natural that you feel regret and nostalgia for the years that have already gone by.
Looking at it in the most concrete way possible, we must understand that from the moment a child leaves, there is an unoccupied room, one less plate on the table and one less individual around the house.
This vision can be devastating for many parents. Some may even believe their children will forget them or that they’ll no longer have time to visit them.
On certain occasions when the empty nest syndrome occurs, many people experience some guilt over past conflicts. In fact, they may even think they’ve done wrong to their children and that they left because of mistakes they’ve made as parents.
If the parents’ mood is too affected after the departure of a child, it is advisable to seek professional help. This situation may well be the origin of a depressive moment. Of course, it’s important to deal with this problem in time.
In addition to those mentioned, parents may experience anxiety, boredom, insomnia, reluctance and irritability. The best solution for these cases is to try to change the routine, progressively, to distract yourself and thus break the chain of negative thoughts.
How to Overcome Empty Nest Syndrome
A fundamental first step to overcome this difficult stage is to understand that this doesn’t mean the children will leave their parents’ lives forever. It’s a moment that every human being must face. It’s practically instinctive to leave home to make one’s own path.
Therefore, parents must work to accept this new model of life and to cope with it in the best possible way. At the end of the day, it’s also a sign that the educational process has been carried out successfully.
An excellent tool, in addition to your partner’s help, is to do other activities to distract yourself. Thus, socializing with people who are going through similar times and focusing on something you’re passionate about can help you have a different perspective on the situation.
Preparation is Essential
As for each important event, it’s a good idea to work in advance to face a child’s departure.
What does this mean? In the years prior to his coming of age or when the idea of leaving his parents’ house begins to be discussed, we must give him more freedom. That is, be there but without solving all of his problems.
This simple adjustment facilitates two questions. First, the parents will evaluate how prepared the young man is to leave the house. Second, it will help them become accustomed to the challenges that await them “out there.” Other actions that help:
- Maintain a healthy relationship with your partner, as well as social life in the case of divorced parents or single mothers.
- Make the transition progressively, if possible. This means you can start on the weekends, then make the absence for longer periods.
- Avoid leaving home when you’re going through difficult personal moments, which is when you need family unity.
Finally, it’s worth noting the importance of this last point. At all times, dialogue, understanding and respect are needed to go through these moments as calmly as possible.