For many parents, “The Empty Nest” stage is one of euphoria and trepidation.
The euphoria is experienced through the wonderful realization that their child has reached a level of maturity to leave home to study or work and develop further. The trepidation stems from the anxiety of not having a direct control over their child’s well being and comforts.
For the child, this phase is one of reflection and anticipation. It is an experience that is anticipated with excitement and perhaps nervousness of the unknown journey ahead.
In the case of parents, it is a phase of life that questions them on how emotionally prepared they are to see their children “fly away” to learn, become independent and lead responsible lives.
Interestingly, the experience of having the children leave home for further studies or work is one that not only has potential for immense progress and growth in the child, but also for the parent too.
If we are willing to analyse this stage, we would be pleasantly surprised to see how this dreaded stage can initiate us to focus on areas of our life that may have been ignored due to our loving preoccupation with rearing our child.
When my daughter left for college I was warned of the “traumatic experience of missing her” that awaited me and the inevitable vacuum that she would leave behind.
I gratefully acknowledge today that this timely warning from friends and well wishers helped me to cope with the situation with better clarity and logic.
To prepare myself for any possible anguish after she left, I asked myself the following questions before she departed for college-
1) Has she left home for a desirable purpose?
2) Did I want her to seek education away from her familiar home environment?
3) Am I looking forward to her growth and development as a young educated adult?
4) Do I consider her matured enough to take care of herself in a new environment, away from home?
The answers for all the four questions were a resounding “YES!”. The positive reasons for her absence at home encouraged me to wholeheartedly accept her trip to study abroad. The joy in witnessing her illuminating journey for the attainment of higher education and self reliance gave me a great inner peace. Even the few concerns I had about her departure from home disappeared when I realized the sheer idiocy of the situation if I were to feel bad about our decision to send her away for higher studies.
As a parent, as a Mother, when I’m asked the question, “Don’t you miss your daughter?”, I reflect on the joy she has given me and she continues to give me. I reflect on how much she has enhanced my life and made it complete. No doubt, I eagerly look forward to seeing her again but I don’t relate it to missing her presence when I know she has gone for a good reason.
I would like to assure parents that despite many genuine reasons for missing our beloved child or children, none are logical enough for us to experience the deep sense of loss or sheer sadness that we allow ourselves to experience. Our children have left home for a noble and beautiful purpose. It is a purpose that the child and parents work relentlessly and in unity for years to achieve and enable the child to live her or his dream.
Indeed imagine if you are working for the culmination of achieving a successful goal and once you achieve it instead of happiness, you are melancholic about the success? Is it not irrational ?
There are several ways that can help parents not only overcome the pangs they may have as their child leaves home but continue leading a happy and even more fulfilling existence.
The reality of “The Empty Nest” is also an insightful reminder of the wisdom in acceptance and learning to let go in life.