Learning to Fly after the Empty Nest
The graduation hugs and well wishes are showered on young people as they head off into a new future and independent (semi?) life. Parents sit back, catch their breath and pat themselves on the back for a job well done. Somewhere in these moments, many parents realize that their active role as a parent is fading, and a new definition of self is emerging to take its place. As with all changes in life, and our general human tendency to resist change, we often sit in a time that is uncomfortable and full of uncertainty. If approached with vision and clear thinking, this can be a fantastic time of personal growth.
Here are some steps you can take to help reacquaint yourself to who you are (in case it got lost in the mommy or daddy shuffle) to optimize growth, and to clarify the direction for your future. First, it is helpful to create a ritual that formally honors the change you are going through. This can be something simple, or more elaborate (we have wonderful graduation parties for our children, how about a get together with other soon- to- be empty nesters)? This can be a great way to reinforce those connections with adults who you always wanted to get to know a little better, but really only had time to talk to in between kids soccer games. Or, maybe a more introspective ritual would help, such as putting together a hopes and dreams scrapbook, with all your thoughts and wishes for your future, or writing your thoughts in a journal.
For those who are action minded, you can take up that hobby you always wanted to try, or perhaps climb your first Colorado fourteener! Whatever you chose, honoring this life change, allowing a few tears and reminisces, and then facing squarely ahead to the future. As a wise parent once told me, “The world is your oyster, go search for the pearl”!