Is There Really an Empty Nest Syndrome?

There’s a lot of controversy about whether or not the empty nest is, in fact, a syndrome. But for sure it’s one of many life transitions that can be difficult to navigate.

Some parents are ambivalent and struggle with letting go emotionally. Even when your kids readily move into their independent lives away from home, you may still be concerned about how they’re managing. The popular term, helicopter parents, is widely used in the mainstream media.

Father talking with his son

Do you rush in to protect, no matter how inconsequential the situation? Or sometimes feel like a helicopter hovering overhead, rarely out of reach, whether there’s a distress signal or not? If this sounds familiar, your growing children may be missing out on the chance to learn from their own mistakes.

Yesterday we heard from one reader who has a practical and pragmatic attitude: “I have always worked and will continue to do so when my last kid leaves for college next fall. I have four gone now and when each one left home I felt some guilt about not having been around enough. But like so many families, that’s what we had to do.”

For Fern, it’s now six months since her son left home and she’s still struggling emotionally: For 12 years I raised him as a single mother and was always available. I didn’t care that my life revolved around him. Now he just wants to be with his friends and I’m left out. I know he should be on his own, but I don’t have anyone else and I feel so alone.”

So there are different sides to the empty nest story. Click on the title of this post to read about how to lay low as helicopter parents. And if Fern’s challenges sound at all like yours, log in the rest of the week for tips about managing the challenges of the empty nest.

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