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How To Thrive When Your Children Fly The Nest (Even Further Away) | CrunchyTales

How To Thrive When Your Children Fly The Nest (Even Further Away)

3 min read

The ticking of time through life’s ups and downs is a familiar sound for us, midlife bloomers. We’ve been through various stages and survived thus far. But, when the children grow up and leave home, despite all of our experiences, it can still hit us hard. That gut-wrenching grief mixed with pride, sadness and relief.

A whole array of emotions sweeps over you as the so-called ‘empty-nest phase’ approaches. While you’re proud of their independence, you might also feel a sense of loss and wonder what your new normal will be.

As Dr. Sarah Jones, a clinical psychologist specializing in family dynamics remarks, “Empty nest syndrome doesn’t mean the end of your happiness. It’s a chance to redefine yourself, explore new avenues, and discover your own unique purpose in this next chapter”.

The reality of the empty nest syndrome

As a family based in England, we’ve been on a few adventures in our time. I’d always encouraged curiosity and travel. I also assumed the children would grow up with a degree of restlessness as I had done and my father before me. And so it was.

My eldest went to university, allegedly for three years which somehow morphed into a four-year master’s degree including a year abroad. But not just any year abroad in a nearby European country. Oh no. He’s gone Down Under – to Brisbane to be precise – for a whole year!

I’m thrilled of course, and very proud. He’s grown up confident, curious, happy and independent. Just what I wanted. Except how was I to survive this degree of separation? Although he’d been at university for the past two years, this next phase felt unsettling. And very far!

My reaction was emotional, and a mixture of happiness and grief too. I was hit by the realisation that this constituted a new stage in my midlife journey and one I needed to make sense of and embrace in all its glorious inevitability.

Surviving the next stage

I reflected that this moment is a defining one. My child/young adult was ready, able to look after himself and for this I felt gratitude and pride. All was as it should be.

There are many transitions in life, and this is one of them. As parents, we should enable them to fly, let go, give them their wings and hope they will return. And they will, as long as family life has been good and relationships are strong.

Here are some thoughts about how to ensure the separation is positive for midlife mums and young adults.

Acknowledge how you feel

It’s ok to feel sad, but don’t show your child that you feel grief, otherwise, they may feel guilty, which is never what you want. Be patient and allow your feelings to surface, but focus on the positives. Remember you did this. You brought up this independent curious person who now will go on to live their own life. Give yourself a pat on the back as it’s a testament to you as a parent.

SEE ALSO:  Embracing Sexuality In Midlife: A Path To Self-Discovery

Celebrate this new stage of life

Celebrate your child’s journey and your success in raising them to be independent individuals. Remember that we want them to grow and develop, so embrace the good aspects and make some adjustments for the next stage of your midlife.

Reconnect with yourself

With more free time, rediscover your passions. Have plans for yourself and your new-found situation. What about hobbies and activities you put to one side when you didn’t have the time? Reconnect with those goals and desires and make plans for yourself as you transition to this new phase.

Nurture your relationships

Make time to reconnect with your partner (if there is one) as you’ll both be a little lost at first. Find things to enjoy together. Let go and make space for a new relationship to develop, one of equals rather than parent and child.

Keep in touch with your children (but not too much)

Technology allows for effortless communication, regardless of distance. Schedule regular video calls, text messages, and express your ongoing love and support. Try not to call all the time! They’ll be in touch when they can, especially if the time difference is significant. Send them fun messages from time to time. Technology is a great thing! If they are travelling, imagine the fun, the learning and the cultural experiences they are having. Be proud of their adventurous spirit.

And finally, if it’s financially viable, make a plan to visit. Time together as a family is precious. And when and if you do, you’ll realise they are self-sufficient. You’ll see how they have created a life for themselves independently of you.

They will show you around and you’ll feel pride and emotion because you know you did this. You raised this young adult to be everything you hoped they would be. Be proud and be uplifted. It is a wonderful moment. It really is. Promise.

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