DR. E. CAROL WEBSTER’S
EMPTY NEST CAN TRIGGER STRESS
E. Carol Webster, Ph.D.
Original Copyright © 2005
So you’ve finally got the house to yourself now that your youngster is heading off to college or to live on his or her own. With all the preparation and tension surrounding this transition ending, your stress should be decreasing, right? Instead, you feel more stressed than ever. It’s not a must that you experience negative emotions or the “empty nest syndrome” when your children leave home. Many people don’t. On the contrary, they may be jumping for joy. How can you join this club?
Think About What’s Next For You
You will feel more excited about what lies ahead in your life once your children leave home if you start thinking about your other talents, interests and abilities beyond your role as a parent. This is true even when your youngster is still living at home and is simply getting involved in more things that don’t include you, because you can start to feel sad, adrift and out of sorts if you don’t. These feelings can increase and intensify once the children move out altogether, signaling that they don’t need you as they once did. Sure, they may still require your financial help, but it’s usually the emotional dependency that makes you feel valued and necessary. Great feelings of emptiness and lack of purpose can set in once your role changes. But you must aid your child’s growth by encouraging their new independence and autonomy. It will aid their success. To ensure your own happiness and to manage your stress, you’ve got to find some other purpose to your life. This includes you guys, who actually may struggle with the loss of control and go through more emotional changes than many women! Fortunately, in today’s society both men and women feel entitled to express themselves in roles other than that of parent and to pursue a variety of interests and careers throughout their lives if they want to. Take advantage of your new freedom to identify what you want to do with yourself and your life, and then use the free time and space you have to do something about it!
Couples often complain of experiencing increased stress and discord once the initial exhilaration of reclaiming full use of the house and resources is over. Very often, one or both partners have avoided dealing with the relationship by focusing on the children and their never-ending demands and activities. Once the children are gone, these couples only have each other to deal with –- sometimes causing the realization that there is great unhappiness in the relationship or troubles that require considerable time and attention. Feelings of stress increase as a result of this awareness because you’ve got more time to ponder it all. In extreme cases, couples decide to end the relationship because the degree of unhappiness becomes all too clear. Instead of doing this, try getting some help to address the problems and repair the relationship. You have more time to do things together, so recall those things you used to enjoy and explore those you never could get around to before. You also may discover a yearning to spend more time with friends and family that simply wasn’t possible before. You’ll draw nurturance and strength from these relationships –- which will help you feel more uplifted and positive about your life overall.
Keep The Nest Full
You don’t have to feel empty as your children leave the nest. Just keep the nest filled with new interests and enjoyments. This phase of your life can stimulate further growth and development. Look forward to the excitements ahead.
About the Author:
Dr. E. Carol Webster is a clinical psychologist consultant in Fort Lauderdale, FL.
She is author of the book for those dealing with the stress of success ―
Success Management: How to Get to the Top and Keep Your Sanity Once You Get There,
The Fear of Success: Stop It From Stopping You! ―
the book to help you overcome fears that may be holding you back in your life and career
The Private Practice of Clinical Psychology in: Voices of Historical & Contemporary Black American Pioneers
To contact Dr. Webster visit online at http://drcarolwebster.com or call 954.797.9766.
E. Carol Webster, Ph.D.
Clinical Psychology Consulting
Mailing Address: 7027 West Broward Boulevard, #262 Fort Lauderdale, FL 33317
Reprint Policy: You are welcome to reprint this article for your personal use and to share with friends and associates.
Contact Dr. Webster to obtain permission for any commercial purposes.