Saturday, Feb 16th

Last updateThu, 14 Feb 2019 2pm

You are here: Home Section Table Around Town Anticipating An Empty Nest
first
  
last
 
 
start
stop
first
  
last
 
 
start
stop

Anticipating An Empty Nest

empty nest

After living almost 20 years and raising three children in Scarsdale, my wife and I face the prospect of an empty nest when our youngest child leaves for college in August. Many of our friends, similar in age to us, are in the same situation. Neither of us has spent much time thinking about what life will be like when we no longer have our “little ones” living with us under the same roof. We both have extremely busy lives, with sports, workouts, book clubs, volunteer work and demanding careers. Still, we have derived our greatest joy from seeing our kids develop into responsible and independent young adults, and we are faced with the reality that since our older son was born 25 years ago, our family life will no longer revolve around our kids.

The question we and many others like us face is, how will we adjust? According to Psychology Today, the onset of an empty nest is a seminal event in many peoples’ lives. Some become depressed. Parents may miss the companionship or daily contact they had with their child, and may experience a sense of loneliness. There is in fact an official diagnosis called Empty Nest Syndrome, which is defined as “feelings of depression, sadness, and/or grief experienced by parents after children leave their childhood homes.” While both men and women can suffer from the affliction, women are reportedly more likely than men to be affected. I’m not sure why this is. Perhaps it’s because more women than men are involved directly in the day-to-day lives of their children.

For some parents, the prospect of Empty Nest Syndrome presents a paradox. We have always wanted our children to become independent adults. A child who moves out of the home, whether to live in a college dorm or her own apartment, is on the way to achieving that goal. Also, it’s not as if the children suddenly disappear from the home scene. The events leading up to the empty nest are predictable and can be prepared for. Psychology Today recommends that parents prepare for an empty nest while their children are still in the house. Developing and enhancing friendships, pursuing hobbies, taking on new career challenges, and pursuing educational opportunities are among steps parents can take to ensure that their lives remain fulfilled. Another recommended step to mitigate the effects of the empty nest is to make advance family plans, such as vacations, to provide for time when the family can spend time together.

Research suggests that the quality of the parent-child relationship may have important consequences for both when the child leaves the household. Parents gain the greatest psychological benefit from the transition to an empty nest when they have developed and maintain good relations with their children, as frequent warm and open communications with the child after she moves out can ease the feelings of sadness and loneliness than can arise from a home that is suddenly devoid of children.

One related question that comes to mind for us as Scarsdale homeowners is whether we want to maintain our residence, facing the prospect of very high real estate taxes and no children in the public schools. The question we all face is, do the benefits of living in Scarsdale justify the cost? The substantial elimination of the so-called SALT deduction only increases the financial burden on us. It’s obviously a personal decision and we know of several families who have immediately sold or plan to sell their homes as soon as their children leave. For my wife and I, we expect to remain in our home for the foreseeable future because we love our house, have good friendships in town and like the community. Once our daughter graduates college we will consider our options.

We still have seven months to go before our youngest flies the coop. In the meantime, we plan to enjoy every minute of her company. Still, we must prepare to adjust to the reality where the primary focus of our attention, as when we were newlyweds, is on ourselves. That doesn’t necessarily sound so bad. While I expect occasional feelings of sadness and nostalgia in the period after we return home from college drop-off in August, we will derive special enjoyment from the rare times when we get together as a family and spend quality time together. It’s only now do I realize that we took all that family time for granted.

My words of advice to parents with still young children is, enjoy the ride. While the days with the young ones can sometimes seem slow and tedious, the years pass by quickly.

Leave a Comment

Share on Myspace
first
  
last
 
 
start
stop