It was as if it was only yesterday that you first hugged your child. Now he has left home to pursue his own life. You are left with feelings of sadness, anxiety and homesickness. These feelings and things that you experience after leaving your last child are a phenomenon that psychologists refer to as empty nest syndrome. In this article, we will talk about this syndrome and its symptoms and ways to deal with it.
What is empty nest syndrome?
When the last child leaves home to start a new life, the parents experience mixed feelings. They are happy for their child to become independent; But on the other hand, they feel sad and upset. This grief may lead to empty nest syndrome.
As a parent, you have always encouraged your child to become independent; But leaving home and moving on with her life can be painful for you: the fact that the house is suddenly empty of children and you, who have watched her grow up and been with her for years, have to deal with your spouse alone. You miss his presence and feel his emptiness.
Like any parent, you worry; Worried about whether your child will be able to cope with problems on his or her own and build his or her own life? Sooner or later than waiting to leave home, these concerns are also raised. Also, if you have only one child, it will most likely not be difficult for you in the early days and months.
However, not all parents experience the same amount of empty nest syndrome. The quality of the parent-child relationship plays an important role in the severity of this syndrome; For example, if the parent-child relationship is full of conflict and tension, the parent will be more involved.
People make jokes about empty nest syndrome. Let me tell you, this is not funny! It is difficult to cope with it.
– Michelle Pfeiffer, American actress
What are the symptoms of empty nest syndrome?
Empty Nest Syndrome has symptoms that help you understand how emotionally involved you are and whether you need to take action.
1. Losing one of life’s goals
Before your child left home, your days were spent preoccupying him with a variety of issues, from games to recreational activities, travel, education, and more. Now that he has left home, you may not know what to do with your free time. However, there are still other occupations such as spouse, work, friends and ؛; You may feel a little empty.
This intangible feeling of emptiness stems from the fact that you have long been in the role of an ever-present parent who has the responsibility of caring for her child, and now you have to come to terms with the fact that this important chapter of your life is over. This sense of loss of purpose and emptiness usually occurs for parents whose child has just left home.
۲. Marital stress
Over the years, many parents often ignore many of their needs in order to dedicate their lives to raising their children. If your married life has been devoted to children for many years, now in their absence it seems a little difficult to return to the life before having children; For example, you may not know what to do with your overtime now.
3. Loss of control and resulting helplessness
For years you controlled an important part of your children’s lives; But now that he has left home and is living an independent life. You no longer have control over him. You do not know much about him and you may not know what he does, where he goes and how he goes about his daily life. It makes you feel helpless to lose control. Feeling we have ‘Run out of gas’ emotionally.
4. Emotional distress
Parents whose child has just left home experience conflicting and sometimes intense emotions. Do not be afraid if you suddenly cry while driving or watching TV. You are going through a period; Periods where you experience a variety of emotions, such as the discomfort of growing up, anger over why you were no longer with you, fear of aging, worry and anxiety about yourself and your child, and so on.
5. Concerns about the child
Whether your child has moved to a distant city to study or is married and has started an independent life with someone else, you as a parent are concerned about him or her. This is a natural concern. What is abnormal is your constant anxiety about his condition.
Ways to deal with and reduce the effects of empty nest syndrome
Although this syndrome is not a clinical disease and most of its signs and symptoms disappear over time, the severity of these symptoms varies from person to person. The following strategies have been suggested to reduce the negative effects of this syndrome (such as feelings of sadness and anxiety):
1. Cope with the time to go
Your child has chosen a specific time to leave home. Avoid comparing this time with your expectations. Instead, focus on how you can help her start a new chapter in her life.
۲. keep in touch
Even though your child has left home, he or she is still a member of your family. Have a regular, moderate schedule for contacting him.
3. Get help
Talk about your feelings with friends or other acquaintances who have similar experiences. It is very helpful to see a counselor if you are experiencing severe emotions.
4. Be positive
Now that your child has left home, you and your spouse have plenty of time. Think about how you want to spend your time together. Also, now is a good time to address your personal concerns and interests.
5. Take care of yourself
Instead of focusing on what happened, plan a healthy diet, exercise, get a good night’s sleep, and take care of your health.
Can the symptoms of this syndrome be prevented?
Children usually do not leave home suddenly; So you have enough time to prepare yourself. Plan your free time before it is time to leave.
Time to see a therapist
In rare cases, the parent is unable to cope with their child’s vacancy, or symptoms such as depression and anxiety are so severe that the person loses the ability to cope with daily life. In such cases, a visit to a psychotherapist is recommended. Your therapist may sometimes even prescribe medication for you.
At what stage in your life are your children? Do they still live with you or are they going to become independent soon? If you sent your children to a new life, how did you cope with the emotions after that? Your experience can be useful for many.
Other sources: goodhousekeeping