At some point, all good things have to come to an end. And if you’re a devoted parent, that means the opportunity to provide for your children. Parents react differently to their children leaving home. For some, it’s a joyous occasion when they’re finally free from their obnoxious offspring and can live their lives as they please. But for others, it’s a more sobering experience and can leave them wondering what their purpose is in life.
The Mayo Clinic says that empty nest syndrome isn’t a clinical diagnosis – at least not yet. But it is common in their experience. It occurs when children leave home and parents experience a sense of emptiness and depression, with constant questions of “what do I do now?” For some, it can be a harrowing experience and leave them distressed and anxious.
What Can Parents Do When Their Children Leave Home?
The good news is that there is some sound advice out there for parents who feel like they may be suffering from empty nest syndrome. Here’s what to do.
Remove Material Reminders
It’s a good idea to remove material reminders of your children. Not all of them, of course – you may still want photos of them in your house. But it can be cathartic to put most of their stuff into self-storage. You don’t have to throw it all away, just temporarily remove it and then return it to them once they move into their own place or need it again.
Focus On Helping Your Child Succeed
Change is the only constant in life. It’s something that needs to be accepted if you’re to remain a healthy and robust person. But it can be difficult when you place so much value in your role as a carer for your children.
One way around this is to see yourself as still providing excellent support for your children by accepting that they need to move on in their lives, whether it’s to go to university or start a family of their own. You can still view yourself as a carer and provider, even if they’re not living in physical proximity to you.
Ask For Help
The Mayo Clinic says that people who think they’re suffering from empty nest syndrome should seek emotional support. They recommend asking loved ones for help and guidance if you’re struggling. If you suspect that your emotions are beyond normal grief, or if you have depression, then it might be appropriate to speak to a qualified mental health professional.
Look On The Bright Side
Children leaving home can be sad. But there are many positives. For starters, you’ll have way more time on your hands to do the things you want. You won’t need to be ferrying kids around in the car all evening: you’ll have opportunities to go to clubs and socialise. You’ll also have a chance to spend more time focusing on your significant other – or finding a new person if you don’t currently have a partner. Refocusing on your spouse or partner will help you adapt to your new situation.