You knew that it would happen someday, and now it has. Your youngest child or your only child has moved out of your home and now it feels strange. Most likely, you have mixed feelings about this event.
If you have a sense of sadness or loss, you may be experiencing what’s known as “empty nest syndrome.” This is not a clinical diagnosis but a phrase that sociologists coined to describe feelings of unhappiness or difficulty in adjusting to a new phase in life that many parents feel once their children have moved out.
If you are having trouble adjusting to this new time in your life, here are the latest insightful findings and ways on how to deal with empty-nest syndrome:
“Empty nest” syndrome in the tech age
Recent research has found that the effect of a child moving out may not be as damaging as once thought.
According to studies by Karen L. Fingerman, a professor of psychology at the University of Texas at Austin, the way parents experience children leaving the home has changed, due to a number of factors. Although it was more difficult to keep in contact in the past, which likely contributed to greater feelings of loss, new technology and sometimes cheaper flights have made it easier to visit or maintain communication with children who have left the home.
As a result, rather than experiencing profound sadness, many parents report improved relationships with children, more free time to enjoy their own hobbies, and more time to spend with their spouses.
Further research by Christine Proulx, an associate professor of human development and family studies at the University of Missouri, supports the findings that familial relationships are likely to improve when children leave the home.
How to cope with feelings of loss
Despite the results of such findings, some parents may still feel sad, particularly in the anticipatory stages. If you find yourself feeling a bit down, be sure to discuss your feelings with someone close to you. Talk with your spouse, or seek support from close friends who already may have gone through this period in their lives.
When feelings are no longer internalized but expressed and discussed, the individual is on the road to coping and conquering.
In addition to talking, spend time pursuing hobbies or interests or goals that you previously didn’t have time to pursue or further develop. You may find that you were looking forward to this new phase in your life more than you had realized.