As a parent, your job is to help your children to live their lives on their own…to be happy and productive members of society. As infants, you taught them to eat and drink on their own – to walk, to feed and dress themselves. As children, you taught them to be kind, to study in school, and to be a good friend. As teenagers, you taught them the importance of staying safe, handling money, and choosing a career. You supported them with their first romantic relationships, their first heartbreaks, their first job interviews, and complained about: having to drive them everywhere before they got their license, cleaning up after them, and worried when they were late coming home on the weekend. You weren’t as successful as you’d hoped in some areas and the energy and worrying of parenting was something you learned to accept. But you also did a great job as a parent.
Those children are ready to launch into their own lives away from the family home in which they grew up. We can all remember how that felt when we were in that very same position. Few of us probably thought of how that major life event felt for our parents, but now that you’re the parent – truth is, it can be rough! It’s bittersweet – you’re happy that you’ve done a good job and they’re moving on, but you’re also sad that they’re leaving and now you have to navigate a whole new relationship with your children and often with your spouse!
Speaking of spouses – if you don’t share the same feelings of grief or sadness, or of not knowing what to do with your life next, that alone can have an impact on your relationship. You may wonder, why aren’t they feeling sad? Or, when will the ever stop feeling so down and move on with this next phase of our lives?
When is it time to get help?
It’s normal to feel sad or out-of-sorts when your children leave home. The house can feel big and empty and you may feel like you have to get to know your spouse all over again as the focus has been on your children for so long! Once you get used to your new normal, life can be so exciting. You can feel like newlyweds again and discover your own interests and feel free! However, if you are simply not able to come to terms with your new life without your children in it on a daily basis, or you are feeling alienated from your spouse, and maybe even your own life and identity, it may be time to seek help.
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If you are feeling overwhelmed and exhausted, abnormally anxious, feeling excessive grief or sadness, when your relationships, or your work are affected, and your ability to cope or function is limited, or you find yourself coping with unhealthy choices (alcohol, drugs, food, unhealthy relationships, etc.) it might be time to seek help.
Or, perhaps you are anticipating going through a difficult time as this phase in your life is approaching – we can help you to prepare for this major life transition to help you get through it as smoothly as possible.
There is no specific treatment for dealing with the change that being an “empty nester” can bring. Depending on what you’re experiencing (grief, depression, anxiety or marital/relationship concerns, etc.), there are many treatment methods that can be successful – Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, Solution Focused Therapy, Mindfulness Therapy, Couples Therapy and many more. It depends on you and what treatment method best suits your needs and personality. Your therapist will work with you to determine the most effective treatment method for you.
What will I get out of treatment with Insight?
Our therapists will support you (and your spouse – together or separately) and empower you to get through this major change in your life. We can share coping strategies and tools you can use to help you get through this time of transition and help you to see the opportunities that may now exist. We can assist you in setting realistic goals and timelines for those goals. With support, you can come out of this life-altering transition more resilient and better able to cope with all of life’s changes.