Ask the Coach

Episode-3- How to Deal with Empty Nest Syndrome

This is our column, “Better life solutions: ask the life coach” where we answer your questions on career, relationships, personal growth, and more, and we provide valuable insights and guidance for achieving your goals and creating the life you truly desire.

Question: Dear coach, I’m feeling really anxious and worried about my daughter leaving for studies abroad. I know it’s a great opportunity for her, but I can’t help feeling overwhelmed about how I’ll deal with my empty nest. I’m afraid I’ll be lonely and won’t know what to do with myself. I’m going to miss my daughter terribly, and I’m not sure how I’m going to cope without her around. I want to support her dreams, but I can’t help my stress and anxiety.

Coach’s Insights & Guidance: I completely understand your feelings and validate your concerns; it is natural to feel anxious and overwhelmed when a child leaves home, and it is okay to feel that way. But at the same time it’s important to acknowledge and process these emotions so you can move forward in a healthy way. Many parents go through similar emotions when their children leave home for studies.

A child is a significant part of a mother’s daily life for many years, and her child’s departure for studies abroad represents a significant change in her routine and daily interactions. The mother may have been involved in her child’s life in various ways, such as helping with schoolwork, attending extracurricular activities, or simply spending time together, and now that her child is leaving, the mother may feel a sense being alone.

Let me share a similar story of Sara (imaginary name) and her daughter Vinnie (imaginary name) with you. This mother and daughter shared a unique bond with each other and were very close, but Sara was scared that their bond would become weaker when her daughter left to study in another country. However, she trusted her daughter and allowed her to go. At first, Sara was worried about Vinnie’s life in a new place, but over time, she realized that Vinnie’s trip was helpful for her. Even though they were far apart, their relationship remained strong, and Sara was proud of her daughter’s accomplishments. Seeing Vinnie do so well encouraged Sara to try new things and enjoy her own interests. During that phase, Sara learned to let go, trust her daughter, and embrace the opportunities of an empty nest. She realized that her daughter’s journey was not just about Vinnie, but also about her own growth as a mother. Today Sara and Vinnie both have become strong and independent and they are the big supporters of each other.

So the very first step is to get the clarity of the situation by asking yourself:

  • What are my daughter’s reasons for studying abroad?
  • Do I understand why this is important to her?
  • How can this experience help her grow and develop as a person?

Answering these questions will shift your thinking paradigm, and it will give you the third person view of the situation. it will help you focus on the positive aspects of your daughter’s journey. This could be an opportunity for your daughter to gain new experiences, make new friends, and become more independent. It can also be an opportunity for you to rediscover yourself and explore new things. So stay positive and optimistic about the future.

While your daughter may be far away, there are still many ways to stay connected with her. Set up regular video chats or phone calls, send care packages or letters, and stay up-to-date on what she’s doing through social media or email. This can help you feel more connected and involved in her life, even from a distance.

It’s important to prioritize your own well-being during this time of transition. Reconnect with who you are. Your attention was always on your child since they were born, so now is the right time to turn that attention back to yourself, and take good care of you: emotionally, physically and spiritually. Engage yourself in activities that you enjoy, such as exercising, reading, writing or spending time with friends. Make sure you’re getting enough sleep and eating well, and don’t forget to seek support from a trusted person if you’re struggling to cope. A counselor or a life coach can help you navigate the transition and provide tools for managing anxiety and stress.

Think about this period in a way as if you have got an opportunity to explore new interests, resume your neglected hobbies, explore new places or pursue long-standing goals. Consider taking a class, joining a club or group, or volunteering in your community. This can help you find a sense of purpose and fulfillment outside of your role as a parent.

It’s okay to ask for help when you feel overwhelmed. You can talk to friends, family, or a professional counselor for support. They can listen to you, give you advice, and help you handle the changes that come with an empty nest. Don’t forget that you have people who care about you and want to help you during this time.

While it may be difficult to let go of the familiar routines and relationships that were developed over time, it’s important to understand that adjusting to a new routine can take time and may involve a range of emotions. It’s okay to take things one day at a time and give yourself permission to feel whatever emotions come up.

Finally, it can be helpful to seek support from friends, family members, or a coach during times of significant change. They can provide a listening ear, offer guidance and perspective, and help you navigate the challenges and opportunities that come with empty nest.

So, from today start focusing on your own interests and take up new hobbies, spend more time on self-care and pursue your goals, embrace the opportunities that this phase has brought into your life. Stay in touch with your daughter and share your new lives with each other; this would make the transition period smooth, productive and fulfilling.

“Parenting is a life time job and does not stop when a child grows up.” – Jake Slope

Always remember, parenting never end, it’s a lifetime job! Hope this would have answered your question and helped you to feel free from your stress and anxiety. Wishing you the best!

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So whether you’re looking to improve your career, enhance your relationships, or cultivate greater personal growth, we’re here to help. Submit your questions to our column and let us guide you towards a more fulfilling and satisfying life.

Disclaimer: Please note that the advice and guidance provided in this column are based on the coach’s professional expertise and experience, but are not intended to replace or substitute for professional counseling, therapy, or medical advice. Readers are encouraged to seek appropriate professional help if needed. Specific results or outcomes are not guaranteed as each individual’s circumstances and experiences are unique.

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Seema. S
Seema. S
1 year ago

Feeling light and free after reading this article. Thank you for sharing.

Sneha Dutta
Sneha Dutta
1 year ago

Very well written article Sheela, having gone through it myself could relate it so well. Totally agree with you that parenting is a lifetime job. Most important during this period is taking care of our own health ( mental and physical). Was lucky enough to have some amazing people around me, who helped me sail through these difficult times. Outings with friends worked out as best therepy for me.

1 year ago

Thank you sheela for coming up with such Excellent topics of discussions always. I am a mother of 2 and totally relate to this emotion of kids going away but I will be very honest here and want to tell all the parents that your children are the future, let them fly and find their life, as long as their nest is intact, they will surely come back when you need them.

1 year ago

Really appreciate that you touched this issue and explained it so nicely sheela. From my experience, These days, generally we have one or two kids and the mother’s have their undivided attention on them. They have invested so much of their time, energy, thoughts, feelings onto their kids that everything moves around it. That is their familiar zone. When kids leave their nest then it is like entering into an unfamiliar zone for both the parents and children. For kids it is easier because they have too many things to explore, learn but as mothers it is like, they have been deprived of the best thing they know. So you need to deliberately make an effort to make that new life familiar to you and learn to enjoy it. I’m glad that Sheela, you’ve suggested some nice tips to do that and they really help..

9 months ago

I’m dreading when my son wants to leave home but also excited that he will be chasing his goals and dreams.

9 months ago

This is a very interesting topic, and I think I’m going to experience something similar in the future with my daughter. I try to prepare for it by having my own hobbies, and time for myself to avoid losing my identity. Thanks for sharing!