Empty nest syndrome is a phenomenon that happens in almost every family, when the children leave their home either to study in another city or to live separately after their marriage. This syndrome frightens nearly all parents but how far is it dangerous and what are the ways out?
Mothers are considered more susceptible to empty nest syndrome and tend to see these changes in their everyday life as something tragic. It can be easily explained from the psychological point of view. The majority of women, even those who work, see their main purpose of life in bringing up their children, taking care of them and participating in their life. When their beloved child leaves the home, mothers feel as they have lost their main job, they have been dismissed. Therefore, this dramatic change in their life causes profound depression, the feeling of loneliness and may lead to many objectionable consequences in the parents’ life. When there is a strong bond between the child and the parents, this problem becomes relevant and needs effective solutions. Nowadays numerous families happen increasingly seldom, that is why this bond is more felt by parents. The surveys show that empty nest syndrome can result in increasing tension in parents’ life and even in divorce. Besides, it is noticed that these are not only mothers that are prone to this syndrome. Fathers, who tend to be more reserved and are not always aware of a forthcoming problem, experience the same, if not the bigger shock from the situation. As a result, they can get into the bad habits, such as drinking or smoking, which might also lead to the breakdown of the family.
However, empty nest syndrome effects differently on different people. It depends on the status of parents, on their feelings of self-sufficiency and on their attitude towards this problem. It is necessary to realize that children have grown up and that they cannot spend all their life being at home beside their parents. They have to get good education, to apply to a well-paid job and to get married, thus to regulate their life. In the majority of cases, it is impossible to do everything not leaving the home. For those parents who understand it and accept the necessity of children’s transition, it is always easier to recover from the empty nest syndrome. Scientists say that it usually takes women from eighteen months to two years to turn from eternal mothers to independent women. However, people have different psychology and for many of them it is necessary to undergo a cure in order to get over the stress.
It is significant that many scholars do not support the idea that empty nest syndrome is a grave problem. Many of them believe that nowadays it is a myth. This phenomenon was created and popularized in the 1970s and since then this syndrome has been perceived in the same way, but according to the latest surveys, the effect of their children’s departure is strongly opposed. The psychologist Karen L. Fingerman from Purdue University says: “People may worry about losing their child when the child leaves home. In fact, they are not. They are going to have a more mature, more emotionally meaningful and deeper relationship with them to look forward to.”¯ [Clay, 2] Scientists who back this opinion claim that empty nest syndrome is a stereotype that exists no more. People do miss their children but this feeling is not morbid. After leaving of their children parents enjoy more freedom and try to use spare time for achieving some aims that were unavailable for them earlier. They take this change as an opportunity for new beginnings and new challenges. They spend more time together and are completely satisfied with this new change in their life; they unveil their resources at their jobs, so they take advantage of the situation. The fact that their children have entered the university or got married gives them the feeling of pride and joy. Thus, parents create a better atmosphere for their children as well, as they do not have to worry any more about their suffering parents and they do not feel guilty of leaving the house. Besides leaving of children does not necessarily mean that they start leading their absolutely independent life from that time onwards, some parents still get involved in their children’s lives, even after their graduation.
Despite of different opinions everything depends on people, their characters and the peculiarities of their mentalities. It is evident that there are people for whom the empty nest syndrome is a burning issue. Psychologists offer various ways out of this problem. The main solution of this difficulty is the moral encouragement between the spouses. “Couples who don’t resurface old issues, who continue to respect and love one another, who continue to be sensitive and aware of one another, and who communicate well with each other get through the empty nest stage of marriage in great shape.”¯ [Wheeler, 26] The renewal of a life as a couple can be a strong inducement to see the problem in a different light. Also, it is very important for leaving children to support their parents and to help them to get over the difficult period in their life. It is apparent that parents should not give way to despair but should try to change their attitude towards the situation. They should not stay alone and shrink into themselves. Their best friends can share their grief and can help them much. Women who did not work but were busy with their children day and night can start working again and thus to gain strength and self-esteem.
To conclude, it is always necessary to realize that everything depends on people themselves. The empty nest syndrome is a psychological problem that can be regarded from different points of view. As any problem it has its advantages and disadvantages and it is often up to the particular person whether to give up and let the problem ruin your life or to struggle for your and your children’s happiness.