Beyond Babedom

We're (way) over 40. Deal with it.

Parents Without Borders

What’s worse than a Helicopter Parent? A mourning Empty Nester. You’re getting your life back and you’re in despair? Maybe this is an indication that you were way too involved in your kids’ lives in the first place.I’m reading about how parents of adult children are now dealing with “a profound sense of loss” when their kids actually grow up,  move on and start accepting adult responsibilities instead of celebrating the liberation of doing whatever they want, whenever they want. . . You know, like their kids have for the last 2-3 decades.

Now, I’m not saying I totally dismiss the sadness many feel when they see their offspring move on. Hell, I’m sure birds feel that way, too, when the little chickadees fly off into the sunset. But really, having a kid is not a career. Or at least it shouldn’t be. Nor is the fact that they’ve actually grown up a reason to mourn. At the very least, you should be able to rejoice over the fact that they are now able to live on their own and grow. Not to mention, now you can have sex in the living room.

Which brings me to another point: when does your house stop being their house? Of course, they are always welcome back, but I do applaud whenever I hear someone has made their kid’s room into an yoga studio.

Of course, I don’t have kids, so I see it all from the outside looking in (and the view, my dear, is fabulous). I understand the joys of parenthood (I was a kid myself once) and I know you are all happy you had your kids, but you are more than just a parent and they are more than just your kid. Or at least that’s the way it was meant to be. Someday you will have to accept that they are independent individuals, making their own way in the world.

Or maybe you won’t. In that case, get prepared to keep filling out job applications for you 55 year old son, screening your 48 year old daughter’s Match.com dates and going food shopping for both of them. I’ll be home, having sex in the living room.

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This entry was posted on Sunday, October 12th, 2014 at 1:10 PM and is filed under Family. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

  1. Judy Herring says:

    As a parent of two adult daughters, ages 23 and 26, I have seen both sides of this debate. I have one very dear friend who had a tough time when her children moved out on their own. She would tell me she LOVED taking care of them and having them near. Fortunately for her, they all live within 30 minutes of each other so she sees them and her grandchildren often. And, she did turn one of her bedrooms into en exercise studio!! I have also seen people who claim “they are adults, s they are on their own”…For myself, I picked up my children when they were small, then, I taught them to pick themselves up. My oldest lives near me and I see her often, but she lives by herself (well, with her dog.) My youngest lives in London, UK, and just finished her Master’s. I taught them to fly, I just didn’t think Laura would fly so far away!!! Enjoy children when you have them under your wing, but teach them to think for themselves, do for themselves. Always tell them you love them. Whenever my 95 year old mother talks to my 70 year old brother, they always finish the conversation by saying ” I love you.”

  2. Susan says:

    Fabulous topic & lovely response from Judy. I believe that parents’ jobs was to raise their offspring to contributing, independent members of society & do also find it astounding when I discover someone who is mourning their own success. And, childless as well, I do sometimes think that those folks may mistake their GRANDPARENT feelings for loss of their offspring. I can attest to grandparent feelings without benefit of having had children. They are two entirely different emotions and perhaps those that do not recognize that are actually mourning their youth.

  3. P_lo says:

    I find this entirely ridiculous and judgmental Any woman who has no children has no business judging them. Additionally, no one has the right to judge anyone.
    I was involved in my children’s lives. They knew how to “fly” from early on, knowing I supported them & cheered them on.
    I WAS devastated when Joe left for school. I felt a loss. Not getting to see him but every few months. I’m still his cheerleader, who thinks of him as a “man” who will be something extraordinary!! He has made his choices-great ones.

    Can’t believe I’m writing this-

    I have no relationship with my daughter–my nest was empty long before I planned. You have no idea how it feels to be a mommy.

  4. David Alexander says:

    Check with me in three years when (hopefully) my two are gone. Although I look forward to those days, I can understand how difficult it must be for some parents. Just like work, a lot of people invest all their time and energy in raising their children. And just like work, it becomes the way they measure their own self-worth. The majority of parents I know didn’t set out to be that way, but have seen it slowly evolve. The ability to let go, let their kids go, is not easy.

  5. Judy Herring says:

    I want to add, the first time my oldest daughter moved out, when she was almost 18 right after graduating from high school, my heart just fell to my feet. And, when Laura left to finish her senior year of college in London, I didn’t know if I could walk out of the airport I was crying so hard. Saying goodbye to them was one of the most difficult things I have ever done. As parents, our job is to teach and love our children. As individuals, we need to accept what our children decide and remember to take care of ourselves.

  6. Terri says:

    My son just started high school so I only have a few more years of him being home all the time. While my head understands I don’t think my heart will when he goes off to college. It is a loss. You miss them being around and at the same time you are proud of their accomplishments. As David said it is a job–the hardest job anyone will ever have. You are molding and guiding a person to be their best selves. Screwing it up means screwing them up. It is not to be taken lightly and when that job is done you can never find one as fulfilling but you can find other things that will bring you joy and fill your time. Some people really love this job! For those that choose to be stay at home moms, it is their career and just like with a lot if people, they don’t know what to do with themselves when they “retire”. They miss their “work friends”. You never wanted children and that’s your choice but you really can’t understand the mixed emotions that go with letting them go. I don’t know any parents that say “I can’t wait till they grow up and get out of my house”. Most of us are always wishing time would slow down because they are growing so fast. We love being their parents and although we know they will grow up and move on we will miss them. I won’t apologize for it.

  7. People need to plan for this, it is not some unexpected surprise. Let your kids know what is expected of them well before the time comes for them to move out. Then plan with your spouse for the empty nest. That said, totally agree that the adult kids need to be out on their own, making their own way. After all, isn’t that the ultimate goal of parenting?

  8. Now, I never suggested every parent was like this and that there was anything wrong with missing your kids, but most of you get that. I’m talking about parents who turn their offspring into parasites, which the Gypsy Nesters so aptly describe in this post: http://www.gypsynester.com/pk.htm
    Here’s how they start. . .
    What’s worse than a Boomerang “Kid?” A Parasite “Kid.”
    The Boomeranger returns home to rely on its host for room, board and Mama’s cooking, but the Parasite will eventually kill its host by latching on and sucking the nest egg dry while living on its own. Long distance leeching, in a manner of speaking.
    In generations past, it seemed like only rich kids acted this way, expecting their “allowance.” We are now seeing a new breed — the middle class Parasite. These bloodsuckers have gotten it into their heads that the job of raising them never ends.

  9. Linda Kravetz says:

    Very interesting topic, Lucille. sorry I found it just now -anyway the writer who said “you have no idea what it is to be a mommy,” is out of line – every woman has a maternal instinct which finds expression in many ways, whether it’s child-rearing, a vocation, profession, a relative, a best friend, hobbies or interest, a cause, etc. etc. This urge to nurture is an atavistic instinct common to all animals including humans – just like the instinct to reproduce. It’s interesting that you accompany your piece with a photo of a simian mom and pop. very apropos. many parents define themselves by their children – big deal – because they have nothing better going on in their lives. Coddling, spoiling them- giving them everything is a cop-out a- a dereliction of parental responsibility; how do parents like that expect such children to behave when they are adults? They will continue to expect to be coddled, ministered to, be given everything they want, recipe for a failed human being. Being parent is something that comes naturally – you don’t have to have a degree for that, or previous experience,or even a brilliant mind. even idiots and derelicts can reproduce themselves. Raising them responsibly is another thing.
    The urge to let go is also in our makeup – just observe the animals. it’s not normal to stay in the nest and for parents to encourage it. the nest gets suffocating with all those spineless adult offspring in it and eventually disintegrates under its weight.

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