When the children get married and the family home is empty
When couples get married, they initiate the marriage adventure; with great enthusiasm they dare to dream, to create projects in common, they enjoy themselves as a couple and sometimes they wait for the great moment of the arrival of the children at home. With great emotion, they embark on the path of raising this new creature. Many fears, worries and new needs arise, but little by little everything is resolved .
These are the magical moments that couples who attend the consultation remember because "their babies" became independent leaving home and they now do not know what to do. What usually happens is that they have lived for more than twenty years for their children, so the moment in which they become independent can be a serious blow ; they are overwhelmed by an incredible sadness and loneliness. When the children marry, the family nest is empty and few things remain the same.
"My children leave home"
These fathers and mothers want the best for their children and support them, but inside they feel that they fade in pain . "I sit on his bed and I start crying. Now what am I going to do? "Says the father days after the wedding of his only daughter.
It is the expected moment, as such as the father recognizes, and he feels happy for his daughter's partner, but he is aware of the readjustments they will have to make at home, because the experiences will not be the same. It is time for family reorganization, to reach a new stability .
That is why I consider it important to provide information about this new stage that couples are going through, and especially about the Empty Nest Syndrome, as well as to give recommendations to face it.
The Empty Nest Syndrome
The couples go through different stages, and in each one both members must rearrange their expectations, desires, needs so that together they can walk and feel satisfied in that union. In general, when the children are at home, the priority of the parents is focused on that they are well: provide them with affection, values, food, shelter, shelter, study, fun, etc. Therefore, parents spend much of their time striving to fulfill this role.
Unfortunately, on many occasions, they forget that before being parents they were people and then a couple; so, they consider that their only duty is to be parents and their life revolves around their "great loves" .
Before continuing, let's clarify what we mean when we talk about the Empty Nest Syndrome.
It refers not only to physical separation, but also to emotional distancing based on "not depending on or being subordinated to parents", either because the children begin a relationship or for reasons of independence or studies.
Symptoms that may appear when children leave home
The Empty Nest Syndrome to which we refer here is absolutely linked to the event of separation of children . Among the main symptoms are:
- Permanent sadness and want to cry for no apparent reason, linked to feelings of hopelessness and even tiredness.
- Loss of the meaning of life . No interest is found in any activity. You do not want to do anything. You do not feel motivated by any task.
- Feeling lonely .
- Feeling of abandonment , and even "jealousy" for not being the priority in your child.
- Excessive and irrational concern for the welfare of the child or daughter, coming to generate stress or anxiety.
- Vulnerability or affective sensitivity (irritability) related to insignificant issues related to the child (they served the child's favorite dessert and that affected him), even a feeling of rejection or exclusion can be generated (without having valid arguments to make them appear).
Some variables in the expression of the syndrome
The reactions are usually not equal in intensity, since they depend on factors such as the type of relationship that was maintained with the child, the personality or the emotional resources that are available at the time; much of this is mediated by the support that husbands can offer .
Women express their discomfort more easily and seek professional help. Men, because of their social role, find it more difficult to externalize their discomfort, expressed through somatic complaints.
The Empty Nest Syndrome and the diagnostic manuals
It is important to mention that this syndrome lacks diagnostic basis in psychiatric manuals .
However, it is often heard today in the clinic. At the beginning the couples focus on the "going of their children", little by little they notice the abandonment of their person and very probably of their couple, therefore, the process of recovery begins by this essential point.
What to do?
The objective is be clear about your goals, projects, hobbies, friendships, family, among others , as well as dedicating the necessary time and space to the couple and allowing them to create an environment in which the children can carry out "their flight" without generating a significant imbalance in the parents.
In those situations where the couple maintains a healthy relationship, but one or both parents are going through this situation, they are given a series of recommendations to more easily assimilate the new dynamics:
1. Work on self-esteem
Many times the couple places all their hopes and expectations in the role of parents, that is, in the formation of good human beings, and nothing is contemplated beyond that task. Therefore, when children no longer need them to make decisions or simply undertake their own projects on their own, a huge vacuum is generated .
Therefore, the Empty Nest Syndrome can cause a feeling of worthlessness that diminishes self-esteem.
2. Focus attention well
Many times people only focus on the losses they are going through, without paying attention to the profits . When a child leaves the house it is because he is prepared to assume, with his own resources, his life, which will bring many benefits or opportunities. Therefore, it is worthwhile channeling the new needs in a positive way. In short, tackle new projects.
People have many capacities and virtues that they can put at the service of others. Initiating volunteering, community work, charitable works, counseling, can be options in which to redirect their potential and energy, or some work that generates income but at the same time can be therapeutic.
3. Express one's feelings
It is healthy for parents to express their pain, because they are going through a grieving process that they will gradually overcome. Therefore, it is normal to visit the room or belongings of their children and if necessary they cry to release their pain. It is a moment of very personal emotional recollection.
4. Reorganize the role
The children begin a new stage in which they will also need things from their parents, but from another position. It is very important that parents adjust to the new needs of their children , which can be as important as when they were at home.
5. Out of stress
Parents often spend a lot of time raising their children concerned about their welfare and are predisposed to be worried, but now unnecessarily. Even unwittingly, they convey those concerns to their children, which is harmful.
That is why it is necessary to learn to relax, first detecting those negative or irrational thoughts that generate concerns, and then practicing physical exercises and, if necessary, meditation.
6. Live a second honeymoon
Having more free time is a good opportunity to enjoy time with the couple and to find novel activities that are pleasing to both: Go out to eat, practice alternative sports, discover new places, etc.
In case you no longer have a partner, it may be the best time to meet new people, go out with friends and share moments with the rest of the family.
A final consideration
The most important thing to keep in mind is that parents do the wonderful job of doing what is necessary so that their children can become independent.
Although it may hurt at first, adjusting to the new situation is the most appropriate and beneficial, since no parent would like to see their children back at home because they were not prepared for the world. So, there are reasons for parents to feel happy and proud both for his work and for the effort his pupils are making, putting into practice the teachings of the teacher.