Empty Nest Syndrome: When Loneliness Invades the Home
Have you ever felt alone? If you’ve ever been a parent you’ve surely experienced the reality of when your children grow up and leave home. You feel that loneliness and fear that’s called empty nest syndrome.
All of your emotions and feelings are influenced by what happens around you. This doesn’t only relate to work or family situations, but the people who are with you play a very important role.
Indeed, you could say that people play a key role in this regard, as they’re primarily responsible for your emotions.
In the case of parents, children eventually leave the nest. Parents know this, but it’s hard when the time comes to face the suddenly empty home. A home that has changed and filled with memories.
Empty nest syndrome and the feeling of loss
Empty nest syndrome can be summed up in one word: loss. The loss of the children who have decided to go out on their own. To live alone or study away from home or simply to create their own lives and build a family.
It’s possible that mothers experience feelings of loneliness at home the most. They’ve carried their children inside them and feel much more connected to them.
In this way, children play an important role for mothers, who feel tremendously responsible for anything that could happen to them.
Discover: The 5 principles of detachment to our emotional health
But suddenly, you find that their bedroom is empty. You no longer have to worry about what time they’re going to get home, nor do you have the opportunity to talk to them as frequently.
Everything has changed and as a parent, this makes you sad. A lot of times, you might develop some behaviors that your child will reproach you for, like calling them every day.
This is normal—your desire for that contact and daily communication. But everything has changed.
This is a much more difficult situation for single parents. If you’re part of a couple, empty nest syndrome is much easier to bear, but when you’re alone the feeling of that loneliness only magnifies.
In spite of this, it’s a situation you have to respect and learn how to face in the most positive way. Sadness and longing are normal. Although it’s hard, it’s time to accept that your chicks have left the nest.
The current situation of the younger generation
Empty nest syndrome is amplified in a negative way by the current situation in which young people have to live. Many older children haven’t yet left the home.
Unemployment, a precarious job situation, a lack of motivation, or the comfort of being at home lead parents to believe that their children will be with them throughout their lives.
In the event that a job does arise, it’s not uncommon for it to be far from home—it may even be in another country. This adds even more sadness to parents who aren’t prepared to face this sudden situation.
When children go on to create their own lives and start a family away from their parents, it can increase the discomfort. They see how difficult it is for them to care for and connect with their grandchildren.
Overcoming the departure of your children
It’s certain that the relationship between parents and their children will determine how serious empty nest syndrome becomes. As we said above, single parents will be hit the hardest. In spite of this, with some effort, you’ll overcome it.
- Accept the situation: sometimes you can persist in fighting a circumstance that you don’t have the capacity to resolve. It’s time to accept that your children have gone on to lead their own lives.
- Focus on your partner: if you’re a couple, sometimes you neglect your partner because you’ve focused all your attention on your children. Now is the time to do more things together and regain your married life.
- Don’t stay at home: whether you’re single or part of a couple, it’s time to enact some healthy social habits. Meet up with friends, go for a walk, or dive into new fun activities to help you forget the loneliness you feel when you come back to your empty home.
You’re leaving now? Don’t go without reading: Simplicity is the key to educating children
Empty nest syndrome is hard to overcome, but don’t forget that it’s just a stage that every parent eventually has to go through.
Accept the situation. If you understand it and make an effort to deal with it, you can be your greatest allies.
All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.
- RAUP, J. L., & MYERS, J. E. (1989). The Empty Nest Syndrome: Myth or Reality? Journal of Counseling & Development. https://doi.org/10.1002/j.1556-6676.1989.tb01353.x
- Lowenthal, M. F. (1972). Transition to the Empty Nest. Archives of General Psychiatry. https://doi.org/10.1001/archpsyc.1972.01750190010003
- Mitchell, B. A., & Lovegreen, L. D. (2009). The empty nest syndrome in midlife families: A multimethod exploration of parental gender differences and cultural dynamics. Journal of Family Issues. https://doi.org/10.1177/0192513X09339020
- Chen, D., Yang, X., & Aagard, S. D. (2012). The Empty Nest Syndrome: Ways to Enhance Quality of Life. Educational Gerontology. https://doi.org/10.1080/03601277.2011.595285