In our research on the empty nest experience we found that life satisfaction was much lower on average when single parents launched their kids to college.  This group fared worse emotionally than did married couples.  This makes sense as it is much harder for a single parent to see their last child go.  This fact caused me to reflect on two themes:

1. If your child does not make it home for the Holidays – then look for ways to be involved with others during the Christmas season.  Of course, the rest of us need to be on the lookout for single parents and single individuals who are alone for the Holidays and invite them to join in our gatherings.

2. If your child does come home for the Holidays – LOWER – expectations.  You have really missed them – but they are now involved in their own lives.  They will remain connected on social media with all their new friends, and so it should be.  Be happy for their presence but do not expect the the level of engagement to be the same as you desire.  This is a tough trap.  You long to see them and hear all about their exploits and adventures but they have different agenda.  They just want to be home – which usually means; sitting around, watching videos, going out with old friends.  They want things to be the way they were.  A newly questioning parent or a clingy parent is usually not what they had in mind.  So be careful and back off just a couple of steps.

What do you think?  Comment or send me your story.


Posted by:Empty Nest Experience

2 replies on “Christmas Season and an Empty Nest

  1. Hmm… I understand that all of us should have some different expectations for the holidays than “exactly the way it used to be”… but my child is coming home to my house… he’s not in charge and we’ll not be doing all we do to make sure he’s perfectly comfortable. This season is an adjustment for everyone- empty nesters maybe more so than their children who are off beginning new adventures while we wrap up loose ends on the fading “family years” season. I want my kids to understand that all of us need to be flexible, loving and patient with each other. I’m not planning to tiptop around my children quietly while they sit around in their pjs playing video games. That’s not going to make anybody’s holidays happy.


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