How to Treat Empty Nest Syndrome When You Are a Parent

Colorful bird taking flightMoving from active parenting to a quieter life without children at home can be difficult for any dedicated parent. For single people, the transition can be very difficult. Empty nest syndrome, however, is not always a negative experience. An emerging line of research suggests that many parents actually have a sense of generation, renewed relationships and excitement when children leave home.

It is normal to experience both excitement and sadness as children move into adulthood. When a parent has no partner from whom to seek support, these emotions can feel overwhelming.

Vaccine Seal Syndrome: What Is It?

For many parents, parental responsibility becomes a primary source of identity. They can spend almost all their time in parental care work over 18 or more years. Thus, when a child leaves home, a parent may be left with feelings of emptiness, loneliness and confusion about their identity. It's natural to struggle with a transition and lament the loss of time with a child. For some parents, however, empty nest syndrome causes feelings of guilt, worthlessness and loneliness that can turn into depression.

It is normal to experience both excitement and sadness as children move into adulthood. When a parent has no partner from whom to seek support, these emotions can feel overwhelming.

The classic, stereotypical form of empty nest syndrome is thought to affect parents staying home. When a parent, stereotypically a mother, is staying home with a child, that parent may have few other sources of identity. When a child no longer needs the parent, they may feel overwhelmed by their freedom.

However, according to research by psychologist Karen Fingerman, this phenomenon is shifting. More mothers work outside the home. Communicating with kids away from college is easier and more accessible than ever. Thus, fewer parents, especially mothers, may develop empty nest syndrome.

In single parent families, the mother may be even more likely to work. This could reduce the risk of empty nest syndrome, since single parents already have another source of identity and fulfillment. However, the lack of a partner can make an empty house feel even more impossible. There is no specific research on the risk of empty nest syndrome in single parents, as opposed to cooperating parents, and because empty nest syndrome is not an illness but an amorphous collection of symptoms, few studies have identified specific risk factors for it. 39? This phenomenon.

Blank tibia syndrome for single mothers and dads

Single parents make many sacrifices for their children. While a partner parent may be able to slip in a few hours of free time each week or fall asleep a bit later with the help of another parent, single parents are often forced to do it themselves. This means less leisure time, less sleep, less time for other pursuits. Some monk parents give up career changes, romance, new hobbies and new friendships so they can have more time for their children.

When a child is removed, single parents have more time. This may mean more time to do the things they enjoy, but it can also take away the sense of purpose and joy. Some single parents may feel depressed about the things they have abandoned because of their children. For example, they may lament romantic relationships that could or may be too late to change careers or new hobbies.

Empty seal syndrome: Myth versus reality

While many single parents experience empty nest syndrome, many also experience a renewed sense of purpose when their children leave. It is a myth that a child's transition to adulthood is always painful for parents. Parental care is exhausting and time consuming.

Some parents enjoy the opportunity to sleep, have more free time, pursue new relationships, and reconnect with an identity separate from parental responsibility.

Many parents report feeling pride and joy as their children move into adulthood. Sometimes, the parent-child relationship also improves when a child moves out, as the parent can begin to develop friendships with the child. Some parents report being attached to their child at a deeper level when the child is moving out.

Although popular myths suggest that mothers are more likely to develop empty nest syndrome, some research finds that empty nest-related sadness is actually more prevalent in men.

Treating Empty Nest as a single parent

There is no "right" way to feel when a child leaves home. Indeed, many parents move between feelings of sadness and joy. Instead of worrying about whether their feelings are right, parents should allow them to explore their emotions as they move on to the next chapter of their parents' lives.

Some strategies that can help parents deal with moving to an empty nest include:

  • Get help from a support person or support team. A sound board for your emotions can help. Other parents who were there can help validate your feelings and offer coping mechanisms. Find a support team near you.
  • Avoid tilting your child for support. This can damage the parent-child relationship and can heighten the feelings of empty nest syndrome.
  • Plan fun events with your child without interfering with their new freedom. For example, plan a family trip for the holiday break or ask your child what would make a visit more fun.
  • Creating a new hobby. You have more time and you deserve to fill that time with something that brings joy. Try signing up for a class, going on dates or curling up with a good book.

Talking about your feelings with a therapist can also help. A therapist can help you understand the role parents play in your identity, then work with you to cultivate a new sense of identity. In therapy, you will work to identify self-destructive thoughts, adopt self-control tactics that reduce the risk of depression, and work for a deeper understanding of yourself outside of your parenting role.

The right therapist can also help you adopt strategies that maintain your relationship with your child as they move to greater independence. If your child's transition to adulthood has shifted family dynamics or caused conflict with other children or family members, family therapy can help.

To find a therapist who can help you with empty nest syndrome, click here.

Bibliographical references:

  1. Clay, R. A. (2003). An empty nest can promote freedom, improved relationships. Psychological Monitoring, 34(4), 40. Retrieved from
  2. Heffernan, L., & Wallace, J. B. (2017, August 2). How to thrive in an empty nest. The New York Times. Retrieved from
  3. Mitchell, B. A., & Lovegreen, L.D. (2009, July 13). Empty nest syndrome in middle-class families: An investigation of gender differences and cultural dynamics. Journal of Family Affairs, 30(12), 1651-1670. Retrieved from
  4. Raup, J.L. & Myers, J.E. (1989). The Empty Nest Syndrome: Myth or Reality? Journal of Counseling & Development, 68(2), 180-183. Retrieved from
  5. The dangers of empty nest syndrome. (2014, October 7). Retrieved from

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