Morning Mix


How to cope with Empty-Nest Syndrome

Blue Cross Blue Shield Michigan
Posted at 11:32 AM, May 20, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-20 11:32:17-04

When the last child leaves the house, parents can experience a feeling of sadness or something missing. What happens when mom and dad finally become empty nesters, and how can they find ways to break through the feelings of sadness?

Dr. Kristyn Gregory, DO, Medical Director Behavioral Health, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan shares ways parents can cope during this difficult transition.

Empty nest syndrome isn't a clinical diagnosis, it is a phenomenon in which parents experience feelings of sadness and loss when the last child leaves home.

Although parents might actively encourage their children to become independent, the experience of letting go can be painful. They might find it difficult to suddenly have no children at home who need their care. They might miss being a part of their children's daily lives — as well as the constant companionship.

In the past, research suggested that parents dealing with empty nest syndrome experienced a profound sense of loss that might make them vulnerable to depression, alcoholism, identity crisis, and marital conflicts. Recent studies suggest that an empty nest might reduce work and family conflicts, and can provide parents with many other benefits.

Parents experiencing feelings of loss due to empty nest syndrome should take action:

  • Accept the timing. Avoid comparing your child's timetable to your own experience or expectations.
  • Keep in touch. You can continue to be close to your children even when you live apart.
  • Seek support. Share your feelings with loved ones and friends whose children have recently left home.
  • Stay positive. Thinking about the extra time and energy you might have to devote to your marriage or personal interests after your last child leaves home might help you adapt to this major life change.

If your last child is about to leave home and you're worried about empty nest syndrome, plan ahead. Look for new opportunities in your personal and professional life. Keeping busy or taking on new challenges at work or at home can help ease the sense of loss that your child's departure might cause.
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