“How Parents Can Thrive Beyond The Empty Nest”

By: Rudy Hayek, MFT
June 6, 2018

The “Empty Nest Syndrome” (ENS), can be an incredibly positive phase of life if you can reframe it from a sad period of adjustment, to an opportunity for growth and reconnection.

Mothers are especially hit hard before, during, and after the child leaves home. The anticipation can especially bring on anxiety because your child is also about to venture off into adulthood. You might be asking yourself questions like: “Are they ready for adulthood?”, “Did I do my job?”, “Will they be safe?”, “How much should I get involved?”, “Will they miss me?”.

When you think about your teen’s last phase of High School, these following events can be especially triggering as reminders that the day is coming: studying and taking SAT’s ACT’s, applying for college, visiting colleges (perhaps out of state), Senior “ditch day”, Senior Prom, final exams,

Most middle-age parents experience some version of ENS, and they need to be prepared to transition into the next phase of their relationship. Feelings of loneliness, sadness, and loss are very common, but they do not have to become all consuming. ENS parent partners can reinvent their relationship/marriage by taking this shared experience and build something wonderful beyond it.

The physical and emotional reconnection between the parents is essential during this time. Getting some help with a licensed mental health professional can help couples create a “2.0” version of their relationship. Interests and goals may have changed over time, so this post-ENS period can be a great period of fun exploration and collaboration, and getting reacquainted with yourself and your partner.

Join a support group (in-person and online/FaceBook)
Take part in couples workshops and seminars
Schedule a “second honeymoon” somewhere you’ve never been
Exchange sharing about your desires, dreams, and “bucket lists”
Revisit what you used to do that brought you together
Take classes and learn something new (together or separately)
Learn to play an instrument

Rudy Hayek is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT), in private practice in Monrovia, CA. He specializes in Relationship Counseling and Communication Coaching.
For more information about Rudy and his services, you may visit www.rudyhayek.com