There’s a saying that every parent should give their children two gifts: roots and wings.
The days and weeks after our children leave home to carve their own path through life may feel uncomfortable for us, but our pain is actually a good sign. It indicates that we have a strong connection with our children and that their absence matters to us.
The challenge is not allowing our sadness to get in the way of our children stepping forward into life. It’s good that they abandon our nest. There’s a big world out there, and they need to get busy exploring what God has for them in it. Our cuddly one-year-old is now a young adult who we have prepared for this very moment.
But letting go still hurts. The empty nest years bring about both the joy of victory and the agony of defeat. On the one hand, we must cope with our sense of loss and adjust our identities. Parents often focus on their children so intently while they’re actively parenting that they aren’t prepared for life afterward.
On the other hand, successfully launching children into adulthood is rewarding. Empty nesters also enjoy fewer daily responsibilities, greater personal freedom, and the opportunity for couples to spend more time together and rekindle their romance.
The toughest challenge for couples in the empty nest years is not adjusting to missing children; it’s adjusting to the second half of their marriage and reframing their life purpose.
Authors Jim and Cathy Burns are with us on our Focus on the Family Broadcast “Finding Your Purpose in the Empty Nest Years” to help older parents navigate and embrace new opportunities in the empty nest stage of life.
In this program, we discuss:
- The empty nest brings the joy of victory and the agony of defeat. How to cope with loss to find your new identity.
- How can you foster a healthy relationship with your adult child?
- Practical ways to declutter your life in this new season.
- Cultivating a healthy second half of a marriage that’s better than the first half.
- How to have life-giving relationships after the children are gone.
- How to invest in your grandchildren’s lives no matter the distance between you.
- How to thrive if you don’t have a spouse in whom you can confide after your child leaves home.
- How to age with grace and wisdom, to finish well, and to make the biggest difference in the lives of those around you.
Jim is the president of HomeWord, which seeks to advance the work of God in the world by educating, equipping, and encouraging parents and churches to build God-honoring families from generation to generation.
Before I close, I’d like to extend an invitation for you to become a special partner with us through our monthly “Friends of Focus on the Family” program. When you do, I’ll send you a copy of Jim Burns’ book, Finding Joy in the Empty Nest: Discover Purpose and Passion in the Next Phase of Life as a way of saying thank you for touching others with the love of Christ. You’ll also receive member-exclusive benefits. To make your pledge, or for more information, click here or call 1-800-A-FAMILY (232-6459).