Empty Nest: Wasn’t this the goal?
When children are young, we teach them to tie their own shoes, fix their own sandwiches, and eventually how to drive and do their own laundry. Parents spend time teaching their children in hopes they will be independent, productive young adults. And wasn’t this the goal? However, some parents have conflicting feelings when the kids begin to venture out on their own.
Mom’s feelings may include a sense of uselessness. She finds herself searching for what to do with the extra time that had been spent on chauffeuring, attending school functions, hosting slumber parties, and so on. Both parents may wrestle with feelings over loss of authority. Additionally, spouses might find they have little to talk about since their children have been the focus of conversations for so many years. But this is the point in time we raised them toward.
Empty Nest: How do we fill the void?
If parents are married, this time can be used to focus on each other. It can be an amazing time to renew the intimacy you once shared and concentrate on your relationship. You may be a single parent or perhaps you need a transition period. Either way, there are many ways to lessen the feelings of loss when the nest is emptied.
- Establish date nights with your spouse or spend more time with friends.
- Host an exchange student. It can be very gratifying to know you are helping a young person into a new experience.
- Become involved in your church youth group or a volunteer position in your community. Youth are wonderful beings, full of life, energy, and most are willing to share it with adults who take an interest in them.
- This is a great time to get more involved in your church. Many churches have groups of empty nesters just like you who get together for outings, sharing commonalities, and hobby groups.
- Travel or renew hobbies.
Empty Nest: A Personal Story
One woman reports “When my last child left home, it hit me hard. I had been a parent for most of my adult life and didn’t know what to do with myself. I missed having the sound of young voices filling the air and the activity of kids going in and out. The first year, I consented to host an exchange student from Europe. Her presence helped me make the transition. But I found I still had a void to fill. I became more satisfied when I turned to seeking my unfulfilled purpose and asked, “What does God want for my life now?” When I asked, He showed me!
“For the first time in my life I was able to take a missions trip that I had always desired to take. It was the most wonderful, blessed experience in my life aside from having my family. As much as it filled my need to be a blessing to others, I was even more blessed by the people I met. They had so little and it showed me how much I had. There was no more time for me to feel low and lonely.”
God provides us with an awesome sense of worth when we trust Him. He says in Isaiah 46:4 “I will be your God throughout your lifetime -- until your hair is white with age. I made you and I will care for you. I will carry you along and save you.” The Lord is here to help us enjoy are our years, have peace, and find the perfect balance in this next stage of life.
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