Katie Couric Joins Us in the Empty Nest

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. Here are two clips from the show (begin the first one at 1:50):

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…



  1. says

    You’re so right. Parenting never ends. And sometimes, the nest never empties! :)

  2. says

    You were so well spoken and lovely on the show. It was nice to see you and Sharon. My four kids are out of the nest by years now (two have even had children of their own) and I have found that, yes, the nest isn’t really empty – it’s evolved. And my relationships with my kids are different but i think even more enriching now that they are young adults themselves. Bravo to you Lisa for a nest well emptied and now ready to be “feathered.”

    • says

      Very much appreciated Barbara. I bet you didn’t have time for all those amazing phtots you take before it emptied.

  3. says

    You were wonderful! Also, that film they shot at your house is officially a treasure. Really a great snapshot of your family.

    • says

      Thanks Anne, it was quite an experience. It was the son who was in the film’s 18th birthday, quite a day.

  4. says

    My nest isn’t quite empty yet, but the fledglings are ready to fly.
    I was just comparing myself to a mother bird this week!
    It is reassuring to remember that “parenting never ends” – and I am enjoying the adults my kids are becoming. Glad to have found this post and your blog :)

    • says

      I am very glad that you found us as well. Not sure I love the bird metaphor but it seems to stick.

  5. says

    I’m having such a hard time with this stage, which is why I started blogging in the first place. I’m so glad to have found this community to learn from and commiserate with. It’s only been 2 months but I’m feeling better already. You both were so great on the show!

    • says

      Lana, that is incredibly kind. We are very glad that you are here. Commenting leaves a link to your blog and a post so I hope others find you here.

  6. says

    I’ve sent one to the marines, the Afghanistan and was terrofied. The youngest I sent to college, seen her marry now she pregnant for the first time. It is an amazing experience to go back through it as a mother/grandmother. I am excited to meet this little person who will have a whole family wrapped around their little finger.

    • says

      Such a wonderful experience to look forward to. Come back and tell us how your experiences this big change.

  7. says

    You did a great job! I’m so thankful to have found this site and some moms to “mentor” me as we move into this next phase of life. I like the phrase “evolving nest” instead of “empty.” Thanks for sharing from your nest!