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Empty Nest Syndrome – Counselling Support

Empty Nest Syndrome – as we approach the end of summer and we start to think about children going back to school, many will also be preparing to wave teenage children off to university. For some parents it may mean that they now have no children living at home. They may be completely on their own and for others in relationships it might be the first time for many years that they are sharing their home with their partner and no one else.

What is Empty Nest Syndrome?

Empty Nest Syndrome is not a mental disorder or something that can be diagnosed.

Empty nest syndrome refers to the distress and other complicated emotions that parents often experience when their children leave home.

When children leave home whether it is to start a job somewhere else or go to university it can feel bittersweet. On the one hand, parents can feel proud of their children’s accomplishments and success and on the other they can feel grief and loss as their children move away from them. They may also feel anxiety as they worry about their children out in the world. Perhaps for the first time in years the parent’s life is not centred on the needs and activities of the child.

What are the symptoms of Empty Nest Syndrome?

  • Sadness loss and Grief
  • Emptiness or a loss of purpose and meaning in life
  • Depression
  • Loneliness
  • Distress
  • Worry and anxiety about their child wellbeing.
  • Increased tension in relationships between partners or significant others

Can Empty Nest Syndrome be positive?

Even if you are experiencing some of the symptoms above you might also find your children leaving home gives you a new lease of life.

Empty nest syndrome signals an opportunity to reorganize post-parenting life around adult needs. While empty nest parents miss their kids, they may also have a sense of relief from the day-to-day responsibilities of child-raising. They typically have the freedom to update or renew their own identity as individuals. Depending on the quality of the couple’s relationship, they may also enjoy increased intimacy and have more time to explore both shared and separate interests.

How to manage Empty Nest Syndrome?

Below are some ideas on how you can respond to feelings of Empty Nest Syndrome

  • Connect with Friends – make it a priority to connect with friends and family or reconnect with old friends.
  • Think about what makes you happy and make time for it. It could be that you take up a new hobby or reengage with an old hobby.
  • Exercise – whether it is a daily walk, joining the gym or a fitness class, do something to move your body.
  • Reconnect with your partner – if you are in a partnership plan activities together, be aware that this time could put a stress on your relationship as you get used to being just the two of you again. If necessary seek professional support if your relationship is struggling. Please see our Couples Counselling Page for more information.
  • Plan things for the future, this could be trips or events or goals. Having things to look forward to or work towards can be incredibly motivating.
  • Keep in touch with your children – It is important to keep that connection with your children going and in this age of technology it can be done easily over a variety of apps.
  • Ask for help – if you are struggling with you children leaving home and this continues for some time without abating you might benefit from talking to a professional to explore how you are feeling and how you can move forward. Please see below for how you can make contact with Paul.
Tips for Low Self-Confidence

When your children come back for a holiday

Your children leaving home can be a big transition period for yourself and your child. Be mindful that when they come home they may have changed, become more independent and have their own ways of doing things. In a similar way you will have changed and evolved in the way that you do things. When your children come home there may need to be some negotiation around a new way of doing things as both of you may not want your relationship dynamic to be the same as in the past.

If you are struggling with Empty Nest Syndrome or any issue that you feel Paul might be able to assist you with through Counselling or EMDR please contact Paul in confidence on 07843 813537. Please leave a message if he can’t answer your call and he will call you back as soon as possible. If you have any other questions or enquiries please call or send him a message by completing the online enquiry form. Due to COVID Paul is currently working exclusively online or on the telephone.

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