What is Empty Nest Syndrome?

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  • Written By: Garry Crystal
  • Edited By: Niki Foster
  • Last Modified Date: 10 January 2019
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Empty nest syndrome is a condition that many parents feel when their children leave home or fly the nest. Empty nest syndrome is a natural condition that affects many parents, especially mothers, when their children begin to make a life without them. After almost eighteen years of caring for a child or children, the feeling of being left alone can overwhelm some parents.

Empty nest syndrome can be a temporary feeling, but for many parents, it can lead to deeper feelings of loneliness. For some parents, bringing up children can be seen as their main role within the family. The sudden feeling of being left without a purpose can leave many parents with a sense of loss and can even lead to depression.

It is important, when children leave the home, that they are aware of the void they will leave in their parent’s lives. Parents should not be ashamed or embarrassed to tell their children how much they mean to them. They should also remind their children how important the children are in their lives.


Although parents should express to their children how much they will be missed, the issue should be handled sensitively. The child or children may also be nervous about leaving home, as it is a major step in their lives. They may already feel slightly guilty about leaving the family unit and should be encouraged by the parent to realize that it is one of life's natural progressions. Empty nest syndrome will probably not be on the child's mind, but it affects both parents and children.

If only one parent is feeling the effects of empty nest syndrome, then he or she should discuss it with his or her partner, or if single, with friends. Having someone trustworthy to confide in can help a great deal when suffering from empty nest syndrome. Single parents can feel especially alone when their children eventually leave home.

Rather than seeing the empty nest as an end to one part of life, it can be helpful to see it as the beginning to another. Parents will have more free time to themselves than ever before. Holidays and trips can be taken without having to worry about how the kids are. If you have been a stay at home parent, you can consider working or learning new skills.

Many colleges and universities cater to the mature student, and you may be surprised at the diverse age range of students attending classes. If you have been working full time to support your family, you now have the chance to slow down and cut back on work, if desired. Single parents will gain the chance to socialize without the worry of hiring or arranging babysitters.

The empty nest syndrome affects some people more severely than others. Make sure that you make people aware of how you are feeling and that you take the time to deal with the issue. Children can always be contacted by phone or text if parents miss them. As is common with people who retire, the free time can seem overwhelming at first, and this is when the empty nest syndrome can hit hardest. However, once you have adjusted, you may wonder how you previously managed to cope without the extra free time.



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