How can I cope with empty nest syndrome?
If you're experiencing feelings of loss due to empty nest syndrome, take action. For example:
- Accept the timing. Avoid comparing your child's timetable to your own experience or expectations. Instead, focus on what you can do to help your child succeed when he or she does leave home.
- Keep in touch. You can continue to be close to your children even when you live apart. Make an effort to maintain regular contact through visits, phone calls, emails, texts or video chats.
- Seek support. If you're having a difficult time dealing with an empty nest, lean on loved ones and other close contacts for support. Share your feelings. If you feel depressed, consult your doctor or a mental health provider.
- 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.
Can I prevent empty nest syndrome?
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.
March 17, 2015
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- Mitchell BA, et al. The empty nest syndrome in midlife families: A multimethod exploration of parental gender differences and cultural dynamics. Journal of Family Issues. 2009;30:1651.
- Allen TD, et al. Work-family conflict among members of full-time dual-earner couples: An examination of family life stage, gender, and age. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology. 2014;19:376.
- Hobdy J, et al. The role of attachment style in coping with job loss and the empty nest in adulthood. International Journal of Aging & Human Development. 2007;65:335.