Sanjana is 18 years old and is the only daughter of Mrs Gill. She recently left for Singapore for her graduate studies. For so long, Mrs Gill’s world revolved around her daughter and now that she has gone, she is feeling equally excited and sad. She’s happy that finally her daughter is entering the real world on her own. But is also feeling low, as she doesn’t know where her life is headed too….
Most middle-aged couples would relate to Mrs Gill’s experience, as they have themselves undergone something similar in their lives. As parents, much of their life circles around their kids, and when they are finally going away, they face sudden void and loss of purpose in life. Letting go of them can be hard and painful experience.
Psychologists call this as the ‘empty nest syndrome’.
Empty nest syndrome refers to a host of indicators that emerge in people when their children leave the home for better prospects and their nest becomes ‘empty’.
Some of the most common signs and symptoms of empty nest syndrome are:
Most of the parents are unprepared to deal with the emotional and psychological consequences of their children moving out. However, some tips that can really help to ease out the transition for the parents are listed below.
Empty Nest Syndrome is not a clinical diagnosis. It is a transitional phase in which parents need to adjust to their changing role and identity. There is no definite time limit to “get over” it.
However, dealing with it becomes easier when one employs healthy coping strategies like taking care of one’s health, staying in touch with the children, socializing, engaging in hobbies, reconnecting with partner and many more. The sooner parents accept the change, the easier it becomes to lead a happier and healthier life.
1. Try and work on developing acceptance towards the change.
2. Keep in touch with children through online media and plan holidays as often as possible.
3. Engage in hobbies and interesting activities with your partner or your friends.
4. Understand that being free of parental duties does not mean a lack of purpose. You could look at the situation as a new phase of life with new and exciting opportunities.
5. Seek professional help if distress continues or becomes unmanageable.
Yes. Empty Nest Syndrome is very common. It is prevalent throughout the world although the prevalence rates would differ from region to region. Asian countries typically belong to a collectivistic culture where family members are expected to provide support to each other. With globalization, joint family systems are disintegrating which is giving rise to several smaller families. Children often move to other cities for better employment prospects thus leaving the parents alone. Situations like these are unavoidable and require advance planning and preparation by both parents and children to make this transition smooth for everyone.
Yes. Signs of anxiety are very commonly observed amongst empty nesters. They may experience excessive worrying about the well being of their child, restlessness, sleep or appetite disturbance and physiological distress like headache and bodyache etc. Some amount of anxiety is normal and expected as this is a major life change. However, if the problems persist or worsen, professional help must be sought.
Empty nesters typically fall in the middle aged group (50-60 year olds). This age group generally includes individuals who are about to retire, with older children looking forward to settling down financially and becoming independent. Divorced, single or widowed parents generally face more difficulty in adjusting as compared to two parent families where partners provide support to each other and help cope with the situation.
Samvedna Senior Care offers online counselling services for old age to handle the feeling of loneliness and isolation caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. You can reach out to them on 9810887895 via call or WhatsApp.
Article By: Priyanka Bantwal, Consultant Psychologist, Samvedna Senior Care