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Old 05-17-2020, 01:03 PM
 
Location: Wilmington NC
5,927 posts, read 5,658,764 times
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My mom was always so grouchy with me for growing up. She fought against any sign of teenager rite of passage.

When I went to college, she cried and said she was afraid I was going to drop out and marry a medical student. (this was completely unfounded. a. I would never drop out. b. I wasn't attractive or social enough to catch a medical student.) She told me that when I was in college that the empty nest left her suicidal. When I got married and spent xmas with my inlaws she cried and said "A young girl should want to be with her family on the holiday!" It wasn't until I was older that I understood her level of narcissism had little to do with me and my life's path.

I managed to be a better parent to my two daughters. I celebrated their rites of passage as evidence of my success as a parent and of course as evidence that they were doing exactly what they were supposed to be doing. Even failures are evidence of growth. I don't feel a need to guilt them into spending time with me, or complain that their actions are somehow hurtful towards me.

My brother who is a man of few words, said that when his kids went to college he was 'bereft'. Now I know what that means. I don't begrudge my girls their growth and success and efforts to build a life away from me, but I still miss them like hell. I'm single, so very alone in this.

I think it is a cruel trick of mother nature that I waited until I was 30 to have kids and therefore am now going through premenopausal symptoms at the same time I have the emotional storm of separating from my kids. I am alone, and due to my physical/hormonal issues, I don't have much energy for rebuilding a social life. To top it off, I relocated to another town for work at the same time. Too much transition all at once.

What I miss the most is not my grown girls, who are out living their lives. I can chekc in with them whenever I need. What I miss is the babies I snuggled and read books to for hours. The smell of their baby heads and their cute little feet. I'd give a lot to have that time in a bottle.

If you have a way to get through empty nest with a partner or exciting plans for fun/enrichment, you might have a chance of surviving it.

Me, I just slog through my days, wishing I had someone to share them with.
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Old 05-18-2020, 02:22 PM
 
Location: Southwest Washington State
26,262 posts, read 16,915,291 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stagemomma View Post
My mom was always so grouchy with me for growing up. She fought against any sign of teenager rite of passage.

When I went to college, she cried and said she was afraid I was going to drop out and marry a medical student. (this was completely unfounded. a. I would never drop out. b. I wasn't attractive or social enough to catch a medical student.) She told me that when I was in college that the empty nest left her suicidal. When I got married and spent xmas with my inlaws she cried and said "A young girl should want to be with her family on the holiday!" It wasn't until I was older that I understood her level of narcissism had little to do with me and my life's path.

I managed to be a better parent to my two daughters. I celebrated their rites of passage as evidence of my success as a parent and of course as evidence that they were doing exactly what they were supposed to be doing. Even failures are evidence of growth. I don't feel a need to guilt them into spending time with me, or complain that their actions are somehow hurtful towards me.

My brother who is a man of few words, said that when his kids went to college he was 'bereft'. Now I know what that means. I don't begrudge my girls their growth and success and efforts to build a life away from me, but I still miss them like hell. I'm single, so very alone in this.

I think it is a cruel trick of mother nature that I waited until I was 30 to have kids and therefore am now going through premenopausal symptoms at the same time I have the emotional storm of separating from my kids. I am alone, and due to my physical/hormonal issues, I don't have much energy for rebuilding a social life. To top it off, I relocated to another town for work at the same time. Too much transition all at once.

What I miss the most is not my grown girls, who are out living their lives. I can chekc in with them whenever I need. What I miss is the babies I snuggled and read books to for hours. The smell of their baby heads and their cute little feet. I'd give a lot to have that time in a bottle.

If you have a way to get through empty nest with a partner or exciting plans for fun/enrichment, you might have a chance of surviving it.

Me, I just slog through my days, wishing I had someone to share them with.
When your grown girls have babies, you’ll get snuggle and story times again. Grandchildren are a joy.
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Old 05-21-2020, 08:53 AM
 
Location: Glen Burnie, Maryland
1,474 posts, read 3,644,109 times
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Reading others feelings (often of sadness) about their kids moving out makes me feel so guilty since I couldn't wait for mine to leave. Don't worry, I love them and they love me. It's just that life was so hectic with them that I never felt like I got a moments rest. Being a single parent didn't help either. After they moved on, it was nice to be able to take a deep breath and think "What would I like to do today?"
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Old 05-21-2020, 11:05 AM
 
6,802 posts, read 3,058,280 times
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Originally Posted by SDS1234 View Post
Sometimes I get so sad that my kids are getting older. I miss the little girls they used to be, running around the house and playing hide-n-seek, wearing princess dresses. They’re 9 and 11 so I know there’s still time to play and bond with them and watch them grow, but I can’t help thinking that I’m at the halfway point for having kids in the house. It’s gone by too fast and it just makes me so sad. How do parents deal with these changes? The thought of them going away to college terrifies me but I know this is incredibly selfish. I can’t keep them home because I don’t want to let them go. At some point, either for college or after, they’re going to move out. I feel like I’m having anxiety in anticipation of empty nest syndrome. I’d love to hear from those with kids in college or older how they’ve dealt with this phase of parenting.

We've gone through it recently and, quite frankly, life is fantastic.


First thing's first. Those 9 and 11 year olds will become teenagers with all that entails. They will attempt to establish their autonomy in ways large and small. In some ways it will be good. It some ways it will be exhausting, annoying, and sometimes downright frightening.

This is normal. Because, in a way, it makes you a little less anxious about their leaving the nest. You're pretty much ready for it to happen. There will be that bittersweet moment as they drive away followed by a pang of guilty relief.

Second, you need to make sure you have an identity outside of your children. I'm only guessing here, but too many parents become so wrapped up in their children's lives that they forget to have lives of their own with friends, hobbies, and personal improvement. They forget to have a relationship with their spouses, too. So when the last child packs the car for college and drives away, they find themselves living with a stranger and with little in common and even less to talk about.

To me, we have become a society far more centered around children. In some ways, that's absolutely wonderful. In other ways, it has caused deep problems. For when we become a society that dances around the children nonstop banging tambourines, what do we do when the music stops? And have we extended adolescence in our children far into their twenties? This is why travel baseball is such an awful concept, because it means the parents are sacrificing unbelievable amounts of time with each other to sit in bleachers every weekend in far flung cities.

In a way, that's part of the terror you feel, your lack of confidence that they can navigate the world without your constant guidance. Another part of it is your expectation of loneliness after you send them out into the world.

A pivotal moment in our parenting life came when we watched Ken Burns' documentary The War. It was about World War II, told through the stories of men who went to fight and the women who went to work in the plants. It was an epiphany of sorts for us, because we realized that the people telling their stories were 18, 19, and 20 when they were piloting aircraft, steering ships, storming beaches, and doing a lot of other, amazing things.

Once we saw that, we started not just asking our children to be more responsible in their daily lives and work, but requiring it. We no longer hovered over them to get the homework done and expected accountability if they did not make good grades. We expected them to get chores done without begging. We expected them to get jobs when they were old enough and be prudent with the money they earned.

The result? Our kids had their struggles, but they also became self-sufficient people in their teens and early 20s with jobs, degrees, and earning their own money. Of course, if one of them got into a jam, we'd be there to help them. But they take pride in being able to chart their own courses in life without mom and dad supervising every moment of their lives. It hasn't hurt our relationship with them one bit. In fact, in many ways, it has made the relationship stronger and more trusting.

So you have to realize that your job as a parent is to prepare them for adulthood first. Of course you love them beyond words, but you are loving them in a way that recognizes who they need to become, and allowing them to eventually gain mastery over their own lives.

Next, you need to love yourself. As I alluded to earlier, the empty nest syndrome hits those hardest who have paid scant attention to their own lives. They have not cultivated a full and robust set of friends. They have not developed passions in life outside of the family. They have not considered how to grow their professional lives.

The mantra I always say is this: Courage is the foundation of all happiness. Rather than hope that your parenthood lasts forever as is, you should acknowledge that it won't and to ready yourself for its aftermath with a bit of eagerness. That means you should be willing to try new things, make new friends, and undertake new challenges long before the last child matriculates.

That way, when the last child leaves, you aren't stepping into a void, but rather into a new world with new opportunities for growth. Trust me. It's a pretty wonderful place to go.

Our last child moved out last summer. It was admittedly strange for about a week. But then we started looking for things to do at night. Trying new meals that we knew our son would have never eaten. We found huge expanses of free time to attend concerts, go to art shows, read books, travel, invite friends over for drinks in the middle of the week, and a host of other things. Just being able to go on a vacation during the school year is a liberating prospect in itself.



Not only that, but we made arrangements in our lifestyle that created more possibilities. We sold our 3,500 sf house and moved into a condo close to my wife's office that's only 40% of the size. Add up the savings in mortgage, utilities, and a lot more, and we're suddenly saving $2,000 a month. Aside of a piddling mortgage payment, we don't have debt. We save money every month and go places. So, in that sense, being empty nesters has meant we've enjoyed a lot of peace of mind from a financial standpoint as well, the kind that makes us far happier individuals.


In that sense, you should quit living in fear. While you shouldn't look forward to the day your last child moves away, you should also consider it a watershed where you move from one incredibly enriching pursuit to several others.

Last edited by MinivanDriver; 05-21-2020 at 12:02 PM..
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Old 05-21-2020, 11:20 AM
 
8,614 posts, read 5,226,115 times
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Originally Posted by MinivanDriver View Post
To me, we have become a society far more centered around children. In some ways, that's absolutely wonderful. In other ways, it has caused deep problems. For when we become a society that dances around the children nonstop banging tambourines, what do we do when the music stops?
Very good and helpful post, all of it.

It also helped me put my finger on why the phrase "empty nester" bothers me--it's because it implies continuing to define oneself as a parent first and foremost, even when the children are grown and out of the house. I am a parent myself, but I am many other things as well and my identity stretches beyond the "nest."
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Old 05-21-2020, 12:00 PM
 
6,802 posts, read 3,058,280 times
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Originally Posted by saibot View Post
Very good and helpful post, all of it.

It also helped me put my finger on why the phrase "empty nester" bothers me--it's because it implies continuing to define oneself as a parent first and foremost, even when the children are grown and out of the house. I am a parent myself, but I am many other things as well and my identity stretches beyond the "nest."

Yep. And thanks.



Children are all-consuming requirements at times, so it's very easy to get sucked into a life where all one does is satisfy their needs. I fully understand that.



So as a parent, it's almost an act of will sometimes to step out of that role and be someone else. But you have to do it.



For example, there are parents out there who will not let anyone babysit their children aside from a trusted family member. Aside from the weird mistrust involved in that belief, it effectively imprisons one in the home until the children leave. It's not a healthy way to live.



My wife and I developed a rule early on. Despite both having incredibly busy professional lives, no matter what we carved out thirty minutes to an hour for us sitting in the den and comparing our days. The kids learned that time was largely sacrosanct. It was the pleasant break between dinner and getting the kids ready for bed. Because if we waited for bedtime ourselves, we'd be too exhausted to talk.



And of course, there's having the discipline to get out of the house together. Date night. A weekend trip. You have to do it. It's not selfish. It's maintenance on your relationship.
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Old 05-21-2020, 01:53 PM
 
Location: Southwest Washington State
26,262 posts, read 16,915,291 times
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I think the term “empty nester” is just a simple way of defining a time in a parent’s life. It does not bother me, nor did it when my kids were leaving home.

I did have some emotional times as my kids grew. I lost it when youngest started kindergarten.

But sending them off to college years later did not seem to affect me as much. Of course they did not all leave at once, so I had time with the youngest then, that made up for the time of toddlerhood when I was preoccupied with the older two. I enjoyed some of those times of that kid’s high school years.

Each age has its own rewards and worries. My advice is not to mess up the present with worries about the future. Be in the moment. Be fully engaged and present. Child rearing lasts around two decades of a typically much longer life. You will love your adult kids As much as you ever did.
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Old 05-21-2020, 02:35 PM
 
Location: The New England part of Ohio
19,711 posts, read 24,838,033 times
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Not every parent enjoys "The Empty Nest" or looks forward to that time.

Not every parent kicks their kids out at 18 and relishes an empty home. In the past few years, I have heard my children tell me about school mates and friends who's parents delight and celebrate their children turning 18. I don't understand it.



Your children are your children for life. Why do people celebrate their children leaving home?

We should give our children "roots and wings".

My kids have friends who have joined this military because their parents kicked them out. I have NOTHING against joining the military, and I have a niece and nephew serving in the Airforce and Navy. They love it. But they felt a calling to serve.
I wanted my children to go away to college. I believe that is a right of passage.

I can relate to the OP because I am not relishing the "Empty Nest". They fell in love with where they attended college, and Ohio pales in comparison.

We have thought of adopting older children. Teenagers, who need help transitioning from HS
to college, trade school pe career.
Some people love motherhood, and there are so many older kids need home
Think about that.
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Old 05-21-2020, 04:51 PM
 
8,614 posts, read 5,226,115 times
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Originally Posted by sheena12 View Post
Not every parent enjoys "The Empty Nest" or looks forward to that time.

Not every parent kicks their kids out at 18 and relishes an empty home. In the past few years, I have heard my children tell me about school mates and friends whose parents delight and celebrate their children turning 18. I don't understand it.
Becoming an adult is something to celebrate. That shouldn't be hard to understand!

In all my life, and I'll be 51 next week, I've never known anyone who "kicked their kids out" at 18. But, while every teen and every family is different, turning 18 means officially becoming an adult. There is a lot right and certainly nothing wrong with encouraging a young adult to be independent and responsible. It's also an age at which parents hope their kids are doing SOMETHING constructive to plan for their future. Going or planning to go to college/university, whether locally or out of the area. If not, joining the military, or learning a vocation, or getting a full-time job. Not just staying all cozy and comfortable in the "nest" while Mom and Dad do the work.
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Old 05-22-2020, 10:06 AM
 
Location: Southwest Washington State
26,262 posts, read 16,915,291 times
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After the kids are on their own, you do miss them. But you get used to a different rhythm of life. I honestly never wanted to relive the years when my kids were teens. Those were interesting and stressful years. And those years were financially difficult as well.

People who feel called to be foster parents have my admiration and blessing.
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