Dear Dr. B,
My husband and I are preparing to be empty-nesters and fear this will be a difficult transition for us. What advice do you have for us?
Appreciatively, Married but Empty
It’s important to first acknowledge that this is a normal progression in a child’s and family’s development. You have survived every other stage of parenting, and you will get through this as well.
Secondly, consider that the Bible says, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6 KJV). So relax and know that you have done your job as a parent, and you have instilled your values and morals in your children which will guide them in adulthood.
One of the hardest things for empty-nest parents is learning to adjust when their entire lives revolved around their children, with little focus on maintaining their own interests as a couple. When one parent was much more involved in their child’s life, they can be left feeling empty when the nest is empty, while the other parent may have difficulty relating because they maintained their own interests and responsibilities in addition to their involvement with the children.
So I’d encourage you to find interests that you can enjoy as a couple once your children are gone. Maintain outside interests and social contacts so that there is not as big of a loss waiting to be filled with the nest is empty.
Also remember that just as with grief, everyone reacts differently, so you and your spouse may need to make allowances for how the other responds to the changes in the home and how it impacts the other. Communicate openly with each other, sharing not just your feelings but also your needs.
Lastly, even though your children may no longer live within the home, they will not be gone from your life!
Enjoy this new season!
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