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Managing Empty Nest Syndrome

By Rosario B. Zavala, MSW, LCSW, CEAP 

“The afternoon of life is just as full of meaning as the morning; only, its meaning and purpose are different.” Carl Jung 

Empty nest syndrome refers to the transition period experienced by parents when their adult child leaves the home to attend college or moves out to live on their own. It is not considered a clinical diagnosis or disorder. Women are commonly most affected by the sense of loss of identity and may experience symptoms of sadness, anxiety, and grief as a result.  Women are most impacted by this transition as their role as primary caregivers revolves around the day-to-day care and attention of their child’s needs. Fortunately, there are many healthy ways to manage this transitional period. Here are some suggestions: 

  • Be aware and willing to accept your feelings. 
  • Find your sense of purpose beyond being a parent.  
  • Redirect the focus on your relationship with your spouse or partner.  
  • If you are alone, you may wish to start dating. 
  • Direct your attention on strengthening your friendships. 
  • Look inwards and find an activity/interest/hobby that you are enthusiastic about. Do not be afraid to try something new. Look for meetups or volunteer possibilities where you will find like-minded individuals and build community. 
  • Explore new challenges in your career or job. 
  • Do you have educational goals you set aside that you can now pursue? 
  • Practice self-care. Make sure you are sleeping 7 to 8 hours a night, eating nutritiously, exercising regularly, etc. 
  • Make a bucket list if you do not have one. 
  • Search out support from others in a similar situation. 
  • Exercise self-compassion and have patience with yourself. 
  • Practice gratitude. 
  • Journal about your experience and notice patterns of negative or distorted thinking. 
  • Relish in your newfound freedom. 

The transition from being a parent of a child to a parent of an adult child will take time to adjust to, but do not despair. Keep in mind that your relationship will continue to evolve as your adult son or daughter grows and matures. Stay positive as you begin to reformulate your relationship. 

Please contact the FSAP at 305-284-6604 to schedule a free, confidential consultation with a Florida licensed behavioral health counselor.  

Click here to read the full Mind and Matter Fall Edition.