Katie Couric is taking her youngest daughter to college this fall and I joined her show yesterday to talk about the empty nest along with our friend, Sharon Greenthal who blogs at Empty House, Full Mind.
The episode was short and I was so glad that my family had a chance to jump in and share their ideas. Here are a few thoughts, just personal opinions, that there just was not enough time to include:
The two biggest milestones in parenting are when our kids arrive and then, decades later, as they leave. Each transition creates an earthquake in our lives, and hopefully, with each we adapt and thrive.
The “empty nest” is not a syndrome, but a sometimes painful, sometimes joyous stage in life. Kids are supposed to leave, parents are supposed to care, this is life as it should be. As the leave we will know them a little less, so is it any wonder that the change is bittersweet?
The journey to the empty nest is a very long process that starts when our eldest get their driver’s license and ends when our youngest have another place to call home. For families with more than one child, this can be a decade or more. The day we drop our kids off at college is but one step along the way.
During this long period we forge new relationships with our kids. It is a bit scary and a bit exciting as we transition to being the parents of adults. Technology and its gift of communication is transformative to parenting but negotiating the new terrain with our kids is truly journeying in uncharted territory. I feel insanely grateful for the ways that we can stay, but not intrude, in each others lives.
Siblings will be experiencing the change too. There were lots of kids book that helped us prepare our older children for their younger sibling’s birth. Younger siblings may feel the departure of older brothers and sisters acutely as well.
As our kids leave, our youngest may for some time become an only, a moment to be cherished.
Sometimes it is hard to not think that our job is unfinished, that there was more we needed to teach our kids, more that we needed to share. The good news is that our kids will look to us for many things for many years and that parenting never ends…