GRAND HAVEN, Mich. — Empty nesting is something most parents will face someday, even as we cope with the COVID-19 pandemic. It might be something that makes it even harder as their young adults move on to their next stage of live. We talked to a few therapists to help guide parents smoothly into this next chapter. Local mom, Meghan Thomas, also spoke to us as she prepares to help her son move forward post-graduation.
"I don't think there's one feeling I think, it's a cluster of mixed emotions,” Meghan said. ” It goes from all ranges of the spectrum, you can go from happiness, all the way down to grief.”
Meghan Thomas is not the only parent dealing with those type of emotions this time of year.
The single mom from Grand Haven is preparing her son to leave the nest soon and go out on his own.
“To be honest, my suggestion was, obviously I want him to be productive,” she said. “But I want him to be happy."
It’s also something Meghan struggled with trying to figure out after spending much of her own life as a mother.
“I had my son when I was 15,” Meghan said.
Now, 34-years-old, Meghan is getting ready to cope with empty nest syndrome. It’s a phenomenon parents experience once all their children leave home.
It’s a time that can often leave parents feeling lonely with extra time on their hands, especially when they’re so used to being daily caregivers.
“One really critical issue that I think both the kids and the parents are making, is the question of changing roles. How does my role now change as a parent? How do I step back a bit, but also stay connected with my child," asked Dr. Henry Muller. “I think because of all of the transitions, that it just seems like it's the norm. That's what you expect is they reach a certain age or a certain point in life, and they're going to be leaving, and it does blindside.”
A time, Dr. Vlencia Agnew and Henry Muller with Adolescent and Family Behavioral Health Services, say is perfectly normal for parents to question their next steps.
“The emotions very," said Dr. Agnew. “How am I going to spend my time now? What do I do now? Because I used to do all of these things. What do my interactions with my spouse if married? How do those dynamics change?”
“A real exploration of belief system of values, of identity, and stuff like that. So that, you know, that's the first thing that comes to mind,” said Dr. Muller.
The Mayo Clinic even offers some tips on how to deal with the new way of life.
They say to stay positive and talk with your kids over the phone even if they don't talk to you everyday. Also, try not and compare your time table for your kids with theirs.
Meghan Thomas says that no matter how old the kids get, a mother's job is never done.
"I think the last job of motherhood is when you take your last breath. Because up until the moment that you leave this Earth your kids are always looking to you for guidance."