What Every Empty Nest Parent Needs to Know (Part 1)

What Every Empty Nest Parent Needs to Know (Part 1) August 22, 2023

Are you adjusting to the changing realities of an empty nest? This series will help! Parts 1-2 will address your new season of parenting. In part 3, we’ll navigate the new ground your marriage is breaking (no, your marriage isn’t breaking!). And stay tuned for a two-part follow-up later this fall, when we’ll reveal what our adult kids say they need from us, courtesy of a brand-new short survey!

I wrote these words in 2017 in a blog on living with purpose: “My kids may be teenagers at the moment, but I feel like I’m going to wake up tomorrow and find an empty nest!”

I can hardly believe it, but tomorrow is here. Three weeks ago, our daughter moved into her first “real” apartment and is working away at her first full-time engineering job. And although our son was living at home this summer, he just moved back to college last week.

Our house suddenly feels so … empty!

As anyone who has faced an empty nest can attest, it is an extremely tricky transition. Our role as a parent changes, and what our kids need (and don’t need) from us changes. We all know this, but that doesn’t mean we know how to do this. So I’ve been looking at the research, seeking counsel from those who are doing it well, and doing some research of my own with 18- to 25-year-old young adults to get their perspective. (In this series, I’m using the phrase “young adult” in the literal sense – someone early in their adult years, in the 18-25 age demographic.)

Over and over again I have been hearing the importance of the same three shifts in our parenting mindset, along with three ‘what to do about it’ actions. These mindset shifts and actions will help us not only “hang in there” through the changes – but thrive in this new season of relationship with our young adult kids.

The first one is a pretty radical shift, and we know it needs to happen— but it can be a hard one. Especially in the early empty nest phase. So we’ll deal with it exclusively this week, followed by two more shifts next week in Part 2.


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