The empty nest
August 10, 2009
by Jenni Sebora

My youngest child will soon be starting kindergarten. It will be, in a sense, a time of “letting go.”

No longer will she be completely under the guidance of my husband and me. She will now be directed, guided, and taught by other adults. These adults will be sharing her progress and growth as well. It is a new partnership.

Delaney is thrilled about starting school. She began counting down the days a month ago. Six weeks is a long time to a 5-year old. School just can’t come quickly enough for her.

She is excited about all that goes with school – even the homework, as much as you get in kindergarten. She has been reading, reading, and reading books. She has picked out her shoes, back pack and a lunch box, although she is thrilled about eating lunch at school. I hope this continues.

She will be attending full-day kindergarten, and being with her new and old friends for a whole day is absolutely a bonus.

As happy as I am that she is thrilled about school, I also feel, in a sense, like an empty nester. She is our youngest, and that rite of passage into the realm of education means the start of another phase in our lives. No longer will she just go along for the ride when we drop her two older siblings off at the doors of school, but she will depart with them in their school routine.

I can just imagine what it is like when families are true empty-nesters. Feelings of anxiety, loneliness, and maybe even boredom may be a part of the continuum of feelings that a parent experiences when their children are no longer at home.

In an article, “How To Deal With Being An Empty-Nester,” by Kassidy Emmerson contributing writer to LifeWhile.com, it noted a suggestion by Dr. Phil that one of the best ways parents can deal with these feelings is by accepting that their child has moved on to the next phase of his/her life, and parents must move on, too.

Dr. Phil also recommends some quick fixes for dealing with the empty nest:

Parents should stop being dreadful about this experience. This is a natural stage of life. He also says that empty nesters should not lie around in bed. Resist the urge to call your child all of the time, and get up and do what you want to do. Start a new hobby or rekindle an old one. Volunteer. Get involved in the community. Relax. If married, get reconnected with your spouse.

As some children’s books and cartoons have conveyed, and as I have experienced myself, as the kindergarten children are entering their classroom on the first day of school with parents in hand, the teacher observes and deals with sobbing and clinging, not by the students, but rather, the parents.

Children are supposed to grow up. As our children move on to different stages in their lives, we, as parents, have to realize that our roles as parents just change over the course of time. But we will always be their parents, and they will always be our children. An empty nest just means our children are doing what, hopefully, we have taught them to do.