Empty Nest Syndrome and Single Parenting
When a child moves out for the first time, many parents experience empty nest syndrome. While couples may see this as an opportunity to rekindle the flame in their relationship, moms and dads who are single parenting may face a more challenging transition.
In comparison to two-parent homes, you may have a different type of relationship with your child as a single parent. You and your child may rely more heavily on one another, provide more emotional support for one another, and be more involved in decision-making.
It is normal for a parent to have grief-like symptoms before the child leaves home. Anxious anticipation can accompany loss as you prepare to release your child into the world as an adult. Crying, feeling on edge, difficulty sleeping, and a change in appetite are all common grieving symptoms.
In contrast to two-parent families, where the spouse may offer support to each other throughout this process, you may have a more difficult time describing your emotional journey to friends and family members who may not fully comprehend what you’re going through.
As you adjust to your child being away from home, you may feel depressed symptoms. Changes in appetite, changes in sleep patterns, chronic sad mood, frequent crying, impatience, isolating tendencies, and increased negative thoughts are all common symptoms. The sight of your child’s vacant room, your child’s usual hangout location within the house, and their chair at the dinner table may trigger you.
These symptoms may appear before or shortly after your child’s departure. One partner in a two-parent household may identify signs in their partner and provide support or encourage them to get care much sooner than in a single-parent home.
When your child, whom you have been parenting for years, leaves the nest, it is a tremendous life adjustment. Going from a two-person household to a single-person household might be jarring, and it will take some getting used to. You may feel severe loneliness, particularly at the start of the shift, with a usual decline over time. Even after the child has left, there may be times when these lonely feelings resurface.
Because a partner lives in the same home, access to support may be easier in two-parent households. Living alone can be alienating and unpleasant for some people, and it may appear that getting help is more difficult during this time, especially at night.
Anxiety before your child’s departure is perfectly normal. Recognize that worry is the body’s way of expressing discomfort. Allow yourself time to process the feelings that are surfacing. Excessive future planning, the tension in the body, panic attacks, feeling irritated or high strung, and difficulty relaxing are typical symptoms.
Anxiety may be simpler to conceal in single-parent households from friends and family members. When anxiety levels grow in a two-parent household, one partner may perceive a difference in the other.
Methods for Moving Forward
Most single parents feel that being an empty nester becomes a wonderful experience over time. If you are experiencing any symptoms, realize that there are numerous methods to absorb this time and make it meaningful.
Volunteer or look for a career in an area where you have a strong interest. Many studies indicate that parents who work have a less difficult time dealing with empty nest syndrome.
Speak with a counselor or therapist if your symptoms are overwhelming or out of control.
Make contact with supportive friends and family members who care about you.
There are numerous online and in-person support groups for single parents seeking assistance with the emotional toll that empty nesting may have.
Accepting the New Normal
Recognize that this adjustment can be extremely challenging and emotionally draining. Keep in mind that even if you don’t have any children, you are still a parent. Many studies show that once the last child has left the house, mood increases and reported daily difficulties lessen. There are numerous ways to enjoy the benefits of empty nesting. Although this can be a difficult change, permit yourself to prioritize your needs, pursue your unique hobbies, and begin to appreciate the wonderful aspects of this new chapter in your life.