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Empty Nest Syndrome - How To Cope With It?

Reviewed by
Dr. Sumant Khanna 94% (62 ratings)
PHD, MD - Psychiatry, MBBS, MRCPsych, MAMS
Psychiatrist, Gurgaon  •  39 years experience
Empty Nest Syndrome - How To Cope With It?

Growing up is a fact of life and while parents would love their children to be with them, it isn’t always possible. Although in India, children do tend to stay with parents, an increasing trend among the urban population shows that younger populations have to move out of their parent’s homes to other places in search of work, opportunity and career growth. This leaves parents alone and coping with loneliness due to the absence of their children, which may lead to a problem akin to depression, known as ‘empty nest syndrome’.

What Exactly is Empty Nest Syndrome?

If the children have grown up and moved out of the house due to career opportunities or after marriage, parents may find themselves very lonely within their house. However, you should remember that this is not a clinical problem but more of a situation that is being increasingly encountered and has been classified as a mass phenomenon rather than just being a disorder. The problems that parents mostly encounter are –

  1. Lack of constant companionship.

  2. Missing the children and being a part of their daily lives.

  3. Worrying about the safety of children when they are not with them.

  4. Missing a purpose in life.

Measuring the impact of the empty nest syndrome-

As it has been described and categorized as a phenomenon, it isn’t a form of the disorder with a bad side only. Empty nest syndrome tends to have both negative as well as positive effects, if it can be channelized properly. Some of the possibilities of both are mentioned here.

Negative effects include vulnerability to –

  1. Marital conflicts

  2. Identity crisis

  3. Depression

  4. Alcoholism

However, positives can come out of this as well such as –

  1. Opportunities for the parents to reconnect with each other as the children are out of the picture.

  2. Actively look to improve the quality of their marriage and resolve conflicts.

  3. Take up new activities and hobbies and support each other with that.

  4. Dedicate more time to each other and cultivate new skills.

Coping with Empty Nest Syndrome-

Some of the things you can try to counter the effects of empty nest syndrome are –

  1. Cultivating positivity: This is the hardest part to do as negative emotions may flood your senses. It is important that you try to stay positive and think that it is in the best interest of your child.

  2. Adjust your time according to your children’s availability: Don’t brood over the fact that your children may not be calling you as per your convenience. Instead of trying to align your routine so that you can talk to them when their schedule allows it. This way, you will get a lot of time in your hands.

  3. Actively look for support: If you are missing your children and it is significantly affecting your life, go and actively look for support. Connect or reconnect with your neighbours, friends or relatives and try spending time with them.

  4. Ensure you keep in touch: Keep in touch with your children regularly and ensure a routine of calling and communicating is established so that you are regularly updated, which helps in reducing loneliness and longing.
In case you have a concern or query you can always consult an expert & get answers to your questions!
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