Psychologists define the empty nest syndrome as a sudden, deep emotional crisis faced by parents after their adult children move out of the family home. This syndrome can be a good experience if you try to forge it into a new chapter of life and benefit from its positive sides. But, how to cope with the emptiness and loneliness after the children move away?
Recognise the empty nest syndrome
Although every parent is aware of the inevitability of this event, the fact that a child is moving to their own apartment is always associated with the creation of an emotional gap that is hard to fill. Also, the relationship with the partner, which for several years was mainly based on the common upbringing of the children may also deteriorate. The main symptom of the empty nest syndrome is a sense of loneliness, meaninglessness and sadness. The blues associated with the fact that the adult children have moved out can last several weeks or even months.
If the departure of the offspring coincides with retirement or a disability pension, the symptoms can be much stronger. The sudden precipitation from the current lifestyle can make parents feel abandoned and lost, and they may have difficulty finding their way in the altered reality. Those especially prone to this syndrome are the mentally sensitive people whose lives so far mainly revolved around their children.
Women experience it stronger
Studies confirm that empty nest syndrome occurs more frequently in mothers. Especially if a woman is convinced that the role of a mother is the most important role in her life. The sudden loss of control over the child means that a woman is unable to cope with the feeling of loneliness and rapidly leaving the mothering role. The tasks associated with motherhood disappear and the loneliness associated with that often becomes the reason behind the formation of negative or "toxic" personality traits. As a result of the empty nest syndrome, many women become possessive and jealous of the life of their independent children.
How to survive the empty nest syndrome?
The sadness and blues in the first weeks of separation are understandable and inevitable. At the beginning it is not worth the fight - it is better to give yourself time to peacefully adjust to the new reality. Frequent visits to the new apartment of your children can help in this matter, and if they live far away – you can call them regularly. All the standard ways of combating sadness are also helpful, e.g. talking to a friend over coffee, conversing with a loved one.
However, after some time it is necessary to restart your life, in which you will focus primarily on your own expectations and needs. A passage of several weeks should be enough to understand that the independence of the children is just another natural stage of life. You should look with pride at having completed the most important of tasks – bringing up your children and setting yourself new goals.
In fact, the most important cause of the empty nest syndrome (apart from the separation) is the sudden excess of free time, which causes anxiety and a fear of daily functioning in a changed reality. To fill this void, you can find a new hobby, pursue those long-postponed dreams – it can be a simple repainting of a room, a small renovation of a gazebo or changing your furniture.
Maybe this is the right time to get the dog you've always dreamed of? Now, when you have more free time, you can focus on the care of an animal. The perfect solution is also to increase physical activity – enrol to fitness classes or the pool, but also work in the garden or on your own plot of land. You can finally start your dream dance course or start travelling the world. The decision is yours.