Empty Nest Syndrome: Who is Likely to Get That?

November 22, 2020



Empty nest syndrome is the feeling of loneliness and profound malaise that many parents experience when their children leave the house.
Sadness, experiences of emptiness and abandonment, depressive feelings – these are all possible manifestations of what is called the empty nest syndrome,

The empty nest syndrome is an expression coined by American psychologists and sociologists in the 1970s that indicates that state of sadness and abandonment that many parents, especially the mother,

Read on to find out the signs of empty nest syndromes and how to overcome this critical period.

Symptoms of Empty Nest Syndrome 

You may have difficulty moving around if your last child leaves the nest earlier or later than expected. If you only have one child or become very familiar with your role as a parent, you might have a hard time living with Empty Nest Syndrome.

Empty Nest Syndrome is part of midlife crises in women. There are different symptoms of Empty Nest Syndrome. Some of the common symptoms of Empty Nest Syndrome are listed as follows. 

Marital conflict

Mixed feelings of loss and excitement

Sleep disturbances and nightmares

Anger or irritability

Sadness and sorrow

Loss of a sense of purpose

Who are Likely to Get Empty Nest Syndrome?

Some parents are more vulnerable than others. Women are mostly more susceptible to Empty Nest Syndrome. Several factors can increase your risk of developing Empty Nest Syndrome. Let’s have a look at these factors.

  • Not having other roles outside of the family that contribute to their identity  
  • Not having a full-time job outside of the home.
  • Low-income families, especially those who depend on financial contributions for a moving adult child.

 show midlife women with a empty nest in her hand to rappresenta empty nest syndrome
empty nesty syndrome

Research indicates that some parents are more vulnerable to Empty Nest Syndrome. People who suffer more from this syndrome have some things in common, such as:

  • A couple whose marriage is unstable or unsatisfactory.
  • People suffering from midlife crises 
  • Those who rely on their role for their identity are more likely to feel helpless than people with high self-esteem.
  • Full-time parents are more affected than people who also have other tasks to do.
  • Parents who fear that their children will not be ready for adult responsibilities tend to have more pain.

Suppose the child and parent have a relationship of conflict, separation, or hostility. In that case, they may suffer more after the child leaves. The best result implies a meaningful and supportive relationship between everyone.

Positive relationships provide a better opportunity for healthy interaction, which is essential for children moving towards independence as well as ageing parents. If your child is leaving home and you’re concerned about Empty Nest Syndrome, it is time to know how to deal with this.  

How to Overcome Empty Nest Syndrome

For many people, coping with an empty nest is mitigated by staying in contact with the child. Parents can stay in touch with their children through weekly text messages, phone calls, or emails.

Accept the time and avoid comparing your child’s schedule to your experience or expectations. Instead, please focus on the things that will help your child when they leave home. If you are a victim of Empty Nest Syndrome and are looking for ways to deal with this syndrome, here are some of the best ways to deal with this.

Keep Yourself Busy

Find new opportunities in your professional and personal life. Keeping yourself busy or facing new challenges can help you coping with Empty Nest Syndrome. It’s imperative to redirect attention to issues that can make you feel connected to overcome Empty Nest Syndrome. Create hobbies, do activities, meet old friends or family. Participate in physical activities such as outdoor games, meditation, jogging, or yoga.

Prepare your child

Preparing your child is good for him and also useful for you. That way, you won’t have to worry about whether they can cook, wash their clothes, or balance a chequebook. If they’re not ready, they’ll still trust you, which isn’t good for either of them, so make sure you teach them the basics. Then do your best to let them go and be proud of yourself for the beautiful parenting you have played.

Stay away from comparison

Make sure to stay away from comparing your feeling with how your friends or relatives feel whose children have also left home. First of all, just because they look so happy and close does not mean they really are. Comparing yourself with others and how they feel in such a situation is Don’t judge yourself and take care of yourself now.

Plan a trip

Living in their own home is one of the problems that empty-nester faces after their children have left. To cope up with this problem, consider planning a vacation. Make sure to plan a trip that will make you feel better. Planning a trip will allow you to explore a new place and have a refreshing experience.

Practice mindfulness

Practising mindfulness is a treatment for depression. Mindfulness is a combination of cognitive-behavioural therapy and meditation and includes awareness of your physical sensations and thought patterns, intending to learn to live in the present moment happily.  

Avoid big changes

Avoiding significant changes is one of the best ways to deal with Empty Nest Syndrome. Don’t take substantial steps yet, as it may add to your problem. Give yourself time to adjust to your child’s absence instead of selling the house or suddenly moving out. Sometimes it takes up to two years for people to fully adjust to life without children.

Talk to someone

As long as you’re busy, that’s great, don’t use your busy schedule as an excuse to suppress your emotions. Ask for help when needed. You will probably find that many of your friends have been or are going through the same thing. There is no reason to try to cope with this very common, but boring, change yourself.

If you think your life is meaningless or think your depression or anxiety may be worse than usual, seek professional help. Recent studies indicate that an empty nest can reduce conflict between work and family, offering parents many other benefits. When the last child leaves the house, parents have a new opportunity to reconnect, improve the marriage quality, and rekindle interests they did not have time for before.  

According to Fingerman’s “research, most parents enjoy greater freedom, a reconnection with their spouses and more time to pursue their own goals and interests once their children leave home. Parents in her studies report that seeing a child start down the path toward successful adulthood gives them a feeling of joy and pride. Most importantly, the parent/child relationship actually improves for many of them when children leave home”.


Mayo Clinic, “Empty nest syndrome”, available at https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/empty-nest-syndrome/art-20047165 accessed 19/11/2020

American Psychological, by Rebecca A. Clay, 2003, ”An empty nest can promote freedom, improved relationships”, available at http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/j.1556-6676.1989.tb01353.x/abstract Arquivado em 26 Accessed 20/11/2020.

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