When the children get married and the family home is empty

When couples get married, they begin the marriage adventure; with great enthusiasm they dare to dream, create common projects, have fun as a couple and sometimes rejoice in the great moment of the arrival of the children at home. With great emotion, they embark on the path of breeding this new creature. Many new fears, worries and needs arise, but little by little everything is resolved.

These are the magical moments that couples who attend a consultation remember because “their babies” have become independent when they leave home and they don’t know what to do. What usually happens is that they have lived for their children for over twenty years, so the moment when they become independent can be a big blow; they are overcome with incredible sadness and loneliness. When children get married, the family nest is left empty and not much remains the same.

“My children are leaving the house”

These parents want the best for their children and support them, but inside they feel weak from pain. “I sit on his bed and start to cry. What am I going to do now?” The father said a few days after the wedding of his only daughter.

This is the expected moment, as the father acknowledges, and he feels happy for his daughter’s partner, but he is aware of the adjustments they will have to make at home, as the experiences will not be the same. It’s time to reorganize the family, achieve new stability.

This is why I consider it important to provide information on this new stage that couples are going through, and in particular on the empty nest syndrome, as well as to give recommendations to deal with it.

Empty nest syndrome

Couples go through different stages, and in each member both have to rearrange their expectations, wants, needs so that together they can walk and feel satisfied in this union. In general, when the children are at home, the priority of the parents is to make them feel good: to offer them affection, values, food, shelter, shelter, studies, fun, etc. . Therefore, parents spend a great deal of their time striving to fulfill this role.

Unfortunately, many times they forget that before being parents, they were people, then a couple; therefore, they consider that their only duty is to be parents and that their life revolves around their “great loves”.

a definition

Before we continue, let’s clarify what we mean by empty nest syndrome.

It refers not only to physical separation, but also to emotional distancing based on “not being dependent or subordinate to parents”, either because the children initiate a relationship, or for reasons of independence or studies.

Symptoms that may appear when children leave the house

The empty nest syndrome we are referring to here it is absolutely related to the child separation event. Some of the main symptoms are:

  • permanent sadness and a desire to cry for no apparent reason, linked to feelings of hopelessness and even fatigue.
  • Loss of meaning in life. No interest is found in any activity. You don’t want to do anything. No motivation is felt for any task.
  • Feeling of loneliness.
  • Feeling of abandonment, And even the “jealousy” of not being the priority in your child.
  • Excessive and irrational concern for the well-being of the child or girl, leading to stress or anxiety.
  • Vulnerability or emotional sensitivity (Irritability) related to trivial issues related to the child (the child’s favorite dessert was served and it affected them), can even generate feelings of rejection or exclusion (without having valid arguments for them to appear).

Some variables in the expression of the syndrome

The reactions are generally not equal in intensity, as they depend on factors such as the type of relationship with the child, the personality or the emotional resources available at the time; much of this is driven by the support that can be offered between spouses.

Women express their discomfort more easily and seek professional help. Men, because of their social role, have a harder time externalizing their discomfort, which results in somatic complaints.

Empty Nest Syndrome and Diagnostic Manuals

It is important to mention that this syndrome it has no diagnostic basis in psychiatry textbooks.

However, it is often heard so far in the clinical consultation. At the beginning the couples concentrate on the “leaving of their children”, little by little they realize the abandonment of their person and very probably of their partner, so the process of recovery begins for this essential point.

What to do?

The goal is be clear about your goals, plans, hobbies, friendships, family, among others, In addition to devoting the time and space necessary to the couple and allowing the creation of an environment where the children can “run away” without generating significant imbalance in the parents.

In situations where the couple has a healthy relationship, but one or both parents are experiencing this situation, they are offered a series of recommendations to better assimilate the new dynamic:

1. Work on self-esteem

Often the couple places all their hopes and expectations in the role of parents, that is, in the formation of good human beings, and nothing beyond this task is envisaged. Therefore, when children no longer need them to make decisions or simply undertake their own projects, a huge vacuum is generated.

Therefore, empty nest syndrome can cause feelings of worthlessness which lowers self-esteem.

2. Focus attention well

a lot of times people focus only on the losses they take, not paying attention to the gains. When a child leaves the house, it is because he is ready to assume, with his own resources, his life, which will bring him many advantages or opportunities. Therefore, it is worth channeling new needs in a positive way. In short, tackle new projects.

People have many abilities and virtues that they can use in the service of others. Starting volunteering, community work, charity work, counseling, can be options to redirect their potential and energy, or work that generates income but at the same time can be therapeutic.

3. Express your feelings

It is healthy for parents to be able to express their pain as they go through a grieving process that they will gradually overcome. Therefore, it is normal to visit your children’s room or belongings and, if necessary, make them cry to release their pain. It is a very personal moment of emotional remembrance.

4. Rearrange the paper

Children are entering a new stage in which they will also need their parents’ things, but in a different position. It is very important that parents adapt to the new needs of their children, Which can be just as important as when they were at home.

5. Get rid of stress

Parents often spend a lot of time raising their children concerned about their well-being and are predisposed to worry, but now needlessly. Even unintentionally, they pass these concerns on to their children, which is detrimental.

That is why it is necessary to learn to relax, first detecting negative or irrational thoughts that generate worry, then practicing physical exercises and, if necessary, meditation.

6. Live a second honeymoon

Having more free time is good opportunity to spend time with your partner and find new activities that will appeal to both: going out to eat, practicing alternative sports, discovering new places, etc.

If you don’t have a partner anymore, this might be the best time to meet new people, hang out with friends, and share moments with the rest of the family.

One last consideration

The most important thing to keep in mind is that parents do the wonderful job of doing what is necessary for them children can become independent.

Although it may hurt at first, adjusting to the new situation is the most appropriate and beneficial, as no parent would want to see their children at home because they were not prepared for the world. Therefore, there are reasons for parents to feel happy and proud both for their work and for the efforts of their students to put into practice the teachings of the teacher and the teacher.

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