One of the hardest days in the life of a parent is the day that the child leaves home. After spending about two decades caring for the child’s every need, the absence of the child from the home will leave a large void and a happy home may suddenly feel barren. While the transition to becoming an empty nest parent can be difficult, there are many things that parents can do to find peace in this new phase of life.
Start a New Chapter
An adult child leaving home will be beginning a new chapter in his or her life and a parent should do the same. A parent should consider rekindling an interest in old hobbies or look for something new to try. While many people set aside their weekly golf games or dreams of running a marathon when children arrive, there is no reason not to pursue those things now that the child is gone. A parent who left the workforce to raise a child should also consider returning to work, regardless of the financial need to work.
Focus on Relationships
Many marriages fall apart after a child leaves home. This is generally due to the couple neglecting their marriage while raising a child. Once the child is gone, the parents realize that their old feelings for each other are gone or greatly changed. By setting aside some time each week to spend together, empty nest parents can strengthen their relationship and avoid the pitfalls that cause divorce in other marriages. Parents should also reconnect with friends that they may not have had time to visit in the past.
Regardless of where a child lives, he or she will always have a need for parents. An empty nest parent should not think that their child is gone, but rather that the relationship has changed. In fact, the change in relationship should not be looked upon with sadness; it should be looked upon with pride as an indication that the parent has succeeded in raising a child that is capable of caring for his or her own needs. As a child becomes an adult, a parent will still be a needed friend, confidant and advisor, even if the parent is not needed every minute of the day.
When a child leaves home he or she will be exposed to financial risks that the parents used to cover. For example, a child living at home has protection against theft of property from a parent’s home insurance policy. However, a child moving away to an apartment or rental house will no longer be covered by a parent’s policy. A parent can work to protect their child and gain peace of mind by educating them on the need for renter’s insurance to cover both personal property and liability concerns. A parent can also help to educate an adult child on keeping an adequate amount of car insurance, life insurance and other needed coverage.
By working to fill the free time in his or her schedule and being supportive of an adult child who has moved away, an empty nest parent can reduce the sadness that many parents face when that car pulls out of the driveway. Rather than looking on the child leaving as the ending of a relationship, it should be looked upon as a beginning of a new life for both the parent and the child.