Catch up on shows with The Coast On Demand
Monday, October 15, 2012 12:44 PM
I remember the first time my wife and I went on our summer holiday without our children. This was years before any of them left home but they had all arranged their own independent holidays and so it was just the two of us sitting in the caravan. And I was thinking – “What are you supposed to do on holiday when you don’t have children to entertain? I can’t dam streams or throw stones or play games on my own…” And it was a very odd feeling.
Kids stay at home a lot longer now. Years ago I saw that the median age for young Australian men to leave home was 26. Even so, many parents still do experience ‘the empty nest syndrome’ even when they are still living at home – that painful cutting of the emotional umbilical cord as you realize your kids don’t need you anymore. Or, at least, not in the same way that they did. So years before they leave home, they are living very independent lives even if they still officially live under your roof.
And when they do leave, some parents feel it really badly – I remember talking to a group of men and some were weeping as they described their sense of loss.
Men may have a harder time than women.
• Women prepare for the transition, pre-grieve and then enjoy their new liberty
• Men wonder, what the hell happened!?
It can put stress on relationships
• Second honeymoon or second thoughts?
• Were they staying together just for the kids?
But more parents find it great! Formerly their world revolved around the kids, but now...
• Reconnect with their spouses
• More time to pursue their own goals: study, volunteer work, sport, hobbies, art
• More time to entertain, run off for the weekend, adventures, fun
• Develop new and renewed relationships
• Reconnect with siblings and other friends
• More money
• More space
Many find their relationships with their children improve
• The kids become more mature
• Less aggravating friction
• Interact through intention (e.g. weekly meals)
My tip is prepare your child. Preparing your child is good for your child and it’s also good for you.
• Do they have skills? Laundry? Money? Self-care
• Make their world at home increasingly resemble the world they will have to survive in
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