Empty Nest Syndrome: It’s all so quiet
On the one hand, we do everything so that our children grow up and become independent. On the other hand, it hits us like a punch in the pit of the stomach when they take off. Psychologists then talk about” Empty Nest Syndrome”; we explain why so many mothers suffer from it.
Suddenly, the room is always empty; when it comes to tablecloths, we habitually take a plate too much out of the cupboard every time; at the door suddenly so few shoes; and somehow everything is so quiet…
It is often difficult for the parents when a child moves out; many get into a sense of crisis. And that’s so normal and natural that psychology has a term for it: Empty Nest Syndrome.
What does Empty Nest Syndrome mean?
Empty Nest Syndrome (“Empty Nest Syndrome”) primarily summarizes feelings that mothers and fathers typically experience during or shortly after the removal of a child: sadness, loneliness, abandonment, emptiness, ambivalence, pain. Reasonable consolation to “that’s exactly what you have lovingly cared for your child for 20 years” usually does not help much: The Empty Nest Syndrome is not a rational dilemma, but an emotional one.
Anyone who expects a happy start to the self-discovery trip and enjoyment of the regained freedom from parents in this situation instead of sadness (which unfortunately applies to more people than one should assume), is probably in its very own crisis …
Why do so many parents have the Empty Nest Syndrome?
When daughter or son fled and move out of their parents’ home, several things come together that can plunge the abandoned into a crisis of meaning and burden them – mothers often more than their fathers.
End of a period of life: It is not easy to let go when the child comes to the kindergarten, school or high school. And even if we finish the school ourselves, finish our education and move out, that can pretty much put us off. The end of each era makes it hard for us to realize how fleeting and ephemeral our lives are. But then in most cases, a new section comes, which brings us back happy experiences quickly and distracts from this knowledge. When our children move out, something new will come for them – but we will stay back in the familiar environment, but now something important is missing.
Change: Give up old habits, allow new ones, say goodbye to beloved rituals and replace them with others with a heavy heart. This is always more strenuous than not changing anything. When a member of the household goes away (and a child is often the most important thing), suddenly everything is different – in the private retreat where we should feel most comfortable.
To be left: And that of the most beloved person in the world. Even though it is natural and we always knew that our children would one day go their own way – it just feels like being abandoned because they leave and we stay behind.
Concern: Of course we are thinking about how our chick beats in the big wide world. Even if it’s a 20-year-old man who solves PC problems for us, repairs cabinets and gets the car out of the workshop. So far, we have been able to protect and influence our child, but now it has to take responsibility for its own life – while we hope we have prepared enough for it … (which of course we are not out of the world) – the call with the question of how to make potato pancakes or where to get a social security number will definitely come …)
Lost content: Admittedly, our children are becoming ever more independent, even while living with us. They go on vacation alone, maybe making their own money, and probably do not use it that much anymore. But as long as they are at home, they are simply present in our lives, have a firm place in them and thus also take up space in our lives. He then suddenly becomes free with her departure – and that feels like emptiness.
What often happens with women: In many, the removal of their children falls into the menopause. If this is the case, they have twice the burden (or more potent …), because in the management of menopause is usually also more on the program than a hormonal change.
How can I overcome the Empty Nest Syndrome?
Do not worry about getting rid of such syndromes, it is always easy: allow all feelings, force nothing, grieve in peace; if necessary talk about it and gently continue at their own pace. Seriously, the most important thing is that we do not feel bad about our feelings! Some want to transfer the vacated children’s room immediately to a home theater; others cannot enter for months. But neither are they neither bad mothers nor the other weak people. For most parents, it actually gets easier over time and they get used to the changed situation. It creates new life content, they develop other routines and the relationship with the undressed child plays. Especially mothers and daughters often come closer after such an excerpt and find a friendly (but of course very special) togetherness. Rituals like daily phoning or chatting help and do both good!
And last but not least, a thought that should comfort us a little in our Empty Nest: An empty nest means that there is somebody who wants to fly now. That requires courage. And that someone has this courage from us.
Attention: If you feel that you cannot cope alone with your grief, you should inform yourself, if there is a suitable self-help group nearby. In the extreme case, the Empty Nest Syndrome can develop depression – and then professional help in the form of a single therapy is appropriate. A good first point is the self-help group “Empty Nest Moms”, founded by Bettina Teubert. The therapist and family counselor is a mother of two – and her children have already flown. By the way: In the Empty Nest Syndrome, many stages similar to the four stages of separation go through after the end of a relationship. Often the situation also weighs on the partnership so much that one asks oneself the question “Should I put an end to it?” Then it is particularly important to deal with it, in order to be able to fall in love with the partner in the ideal case.