You’ve heard of the “empty nest syndrome,” but do you know how or if it really exists? Coined, in the 1970’s by psychologists, it stereotypically applies to women as a personal struggle dealing with the loss and change as their children leave home.
This psychological condition often has its greatest impact on women in autumn, the season when children will leave home to pursue college, military service, or professional careers.
This departure, although you have known it was coming for quite some time, can provide an emotional upheaval in your life with the effects hitting you like a ton of bricks. You suddenly feel lonely. What are you going to do with all of this extra time? The burdens of washing mountains of laundry suddenly seem like a much missed blessing. Yes, empty nest syndrome is real. Psychologists note that next to childbirth, this unique experience is one of the biggest transitions of motherhood.
The emotional feelings can catch you off guard as you experience the sudden reality of extra space in your life–both physical space in your home and emotional space in your heart. Just yesterday it seems both spaces were fully occupied by your child. This transition can bring with it a feeling of sadness, loneliness and depression. You may find yourself dealing with crying spells out of the blue. If the crying becomes excessive, or if you find that you have lost interest in things that used to be of interest, seek professional help to assist your handling this period of transition. Visit this website with the Mental Health of America for additional references about the empty nest syndrome.
As your child moves out of the house, carefully think about how this relationship will change. Instead of being the nurturer for your child, you may find yourself more of a mentor. This is a time when the child is transplanted to a new location where she has the opportunity to flourish and to grow into a mature adult. Just as you have new found freedom, so does your child. It is sometimes hard to do, but you have to allow the child opportunities to navigate life without your being a “helicopter parent.” No hovering to check every decision the child is making. With the convenience of the cellphones, it is easy to keep in touch. But keeping the child on a “cellular leash,” texting or calling daily is not the answer.
Remember, this is a time of transition, and there still is a lot to experience now that children have left. The empty nest allows you freedom to grow and expand in ways you have not had available while attending to your child’s needs.
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