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Pros and Cons of the Empty Nest

Updated on May 28, 2014
DLeighAlexander profile image

Deborah L. Alexander is an author, business woman, wife to Doug for almost 40 years, a mother of three adult children & a grandmother of 4.

Children Grow Up and Fly Away

Airplane tickets and road trips are all too common when children grow up and move on into a new life of their own leaving Mom and Dad behind. Behind in an empty house to figure out just what they want to do with the remaining half of their life. When this point came in our lives, it was a great blessing that my husband and I have maintained and nurtured our marriage, our love, and our joy found in just being together. After spending the previous 30 years attending to our three children's every need, we were able to settle in, relatively comfortably, to the new "empty-nest" lifestyle. However, that new lifestyle which began when our youngest son moved 1200 miles away from home to start his college days, was never void of true heartfelt longing for by-gone days of the frenzy related to raising three active, loving children ... along with many days spent just missing their mere presence.

All three of our children did not get where they are without many travels, mostly by airplane, and many goodbyes throughout their years of growth towards independence. (This plane pictured is an actual plane which took our oldest son Jason, his wife, and our 1st grandchild on one of their many adventures.)

Have you experienced the empty nest syndrome?

Time to Let Go

Time for Confidence in the Job You Have Done

Raising three responsible, functional children was an extra notable accomplishment in my life, when considering my childhood and the path my life was on due to family and generational dysfunction. I found the key to overcoming the past and setting my life on a different road. This decision and determination was not easy to accomplish and was only possible through divine intervention and faith that is stronger than predisposed dysfunctional patterns and programming. Through my choice, along with God's enabling and my husband's unwavering faith the family life for our children became a fertile ground for them to grow and become the productive individuals they were meant to be, living within God's perfect will for their life.

Sending your children out into the world when you know they are ready makes this inevitable step easier. Getting them ready is accomplished partly through meeting their emotional needs and growing them into stable, responsible adults. Basic emotional needs that must be met are providing your children with a sense of belonging, worthiness, and competence. Parenting is a responsibility that my husband and I did not take lightly. We put in the effort during the molding years and when the time came to let go, we knew our children were ready to accept the challenge. We did not have to worry because we knew what they were capable of and that they were in God's protection and care. Now we enjoy adult relationships with each of our children as they have each competently entered the adult world and are thriving.

My Family

My Husband and Our Three Children

I married my high school sweetheart, Doug, when I was a teenager; we have been married for 34 years now. Doug is a genuine blessing in my life and a true gift from God. Together we raised three children who we are very proud of simply because of who they are and, also adding to that, for all they have accomplished ... so far.

Jason, our oldest graduated from high school and attended a university sixty miles from home. He was home almost every weekend during his college years. Then upon graduation from college, he was accepted into dental school at the University of Texas Health and Science Center in San Antonio. This was when he actually moved away from home. Upon graduation from dental school as a Doctor of Dental Surgery, he joined the US Navy and flew to Rhode Island for Officer Indoctrination School. After that he was stationed overseas in Okinawa Japan. He also married his high school sweetheart, Mandy, in the midst of his schooling. Our 1st grandchild, a granddaughter named Averie, was born fifteen time zones away in Okinawa. My husband and I were unable to be there for the birth and finally met our granddaughter when she was 4 months old. Currently Jason is stationed in Maryland where he will finish the Endodontics Residency he has been working on for almost two years.

Our middle child, Amanda, is a medical laboratory scientist. She also has had much schooling beyond a bachelor's degree and presently works in a major hospital in Fort Worth, Texas. She is married to Daniel, a Staff Sergeant in the US Marine Corps who recently received a promotion into the officer training program. When Amanda and Daniel married, he was stationed in Yuma, Arizona. Then only two and a half months after they were married, Daniel received orders for deployment to Iraq. That was a heart-wrenching time for our daughter and a time my husband and I supported her through. Last summer, Amanda and Daniel were blessed with a son they named Samson. Samson is our 1st grandson.

Our youngest, Jarrod, is a professional musician. When he graduated from high school, he headed north the following autumn to attend McNally Smith College of Music in St. Paul, Minnesota. He was accepted to the college through an auditioning process and was able to pursue his dream and develop his talent as a musician. This was the time that my husband, Doug and I officially became empty nesters.

And through all these experiences we lived through with each of our children, there was abundant travel involved. We traveled with them sometimes but mostly would hug them tight, bid them goodbye and safe travels, and place them on an airplane to places far away from home.

Image: Salvatore Vuono / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Babies Today, Grown Tomorrow

Mid-Life Freedom After a Parental Job Well Done

When I began my marriage at age 18, I looked forward to being a mother and raising children. At the time I was working on getting my bachelor's degree, my husband was working a full-time job and, on the side, was playing bass guitar in his band. Then after two years of our normal life consisting of just the two of us, we were blessed with a healthy baby boy. Then a little over five years later, our beautiful daughter joined our family. And after our daughter started school, our family was blessed a third time with the birth of our youngest son. It seems when you are in the middle of raising children that it will go on forever and the day when they grow up and leave home is so distant that it could never really happen. But now being in the place I am at, looking back to the time my children were born seems like a quick flash that has brought me to the place I am today.

Today, the place my husband and I find ourselves at is much like our marital beginnings. Again, it is just the two of us and many times feels like we are back again where we started, but now we enjoy the special relationships with each of the children we have been a part in molding. The biggest con in this life experience is that your children are no longer as big a part in your daily life as before. They are off on their own adventure, living their own life, keeping in touch with important things but usually deleting minor details they used to relate. A period of life that definitely could be referred to as bittersweet.

But the biggest pro to this experience, of returning to a time similar to your marital beginnings, is the time you can enjoy with your spouse. My husband and I have the gratification of a parental job well done and now the freedom to enjoy this period of our lives as never before. My husband is my best friend and we have experienced much in our 34 years together, the good and the bad because life is life. But due to our faith and heavenly guidance from above, the bad has only made our relationship stronger and made us even more thankful for the good.

So now I have reached a place in my life, the place proverbially called Empty Nest. A place I face with renewed hope and a sense of adventure, anticipating what next lies down the road of life for my husband and me ... accompanied by the added joy of sharing in the lives of our children.

Image: Salvatore Vuono / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

A Few Things About Me - Defining Characteristics and Accomplishments

  1. I began my life in Fort Sumner, New Mexico.
  2. My parents divorced when I was 3.
  3. I spent the happiest time in my childhood on a farm in the Fort Sumner Valley with my maternal Grandma.
  4. My parents remarried, we moved, and my life was turmoil; the emotional pain became a deadly physical illness.
  5. I began the most significant relationship of my life when I became a born-again Christian at age 10.
  6. I met the love of my life the very first time when I was only 14 but did not date until I was 16.
  7. I married Doug when I was 18 and we had 3 children.
  8. I graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor's of Business Administration and a major in Accounting from ENMU.
  9. Our family moved from New Mexico to Texas to own and operate two McDonald's Restaurants.
  10. I attended McDonald's Hamburger University in Oakbrook, Illinois. I then became a licensed, approved owner/operator in my own right, receiving corporate approval from the VP at the McDonald's Dallas office in Las Colinas.
  11. I died in a car wreck at age 38 and came back to life in a "Lazarus" experience.
  12. I wrote the book, A Wounded Daughter's Survival, about my life experience, it details the childhood dysfunction but magnifies my triumph over adversity.

A Wounded Daughter's Survival - A Damaged Life Healed by Hope and Truth

My life story contained throughout the pages of A Wounded Daughter's Survival details the victory I achieved over adversity. It offers hope for anyone damaged by emotional abuse, a condition that can leave one feeling hopeless and lost. Healing is possible and living a fulfilled, productive life can be a tangible reality for anyone shoved into the pit of emotional damage. It is about choice, resilience, and determination.

Your Input is Welcomed and Appreciated - Have you experienced the empty nest syndrome yet?

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    • DLeighAlexander profile image
      Author

      DLeighAlexander 2 years ago

      Thanks for visiting and for your comment. It's a bitter sweet time of life to have your kids move on into their own adult life but very gratifying to watch them flourish and succeed as adults who make a difference in the world.

      Wishing you the best as you move into this new phase of life CrisSp

    • CrisSp profile image

      CrisSp 2 years ago from Sky Is The Limit Adventure

      Love this hub and one that I can very much relate although our nest is not completey empty yet...youngest one still in the university residence and her room is still completely intact in our nest. We have no problem with that. She's in fact, welcome any time and we love to have her around.

      I enjoyed reading this.

    • hazeltos profile image

      Susan Hazelton 4 years ago from Summerfield, Florida

      I have an empty nest. At first it wasn't easy but now, my husband and I are enjoying our freedom and privacy. I love seeing my girls and their families but am ready to do my thing now.

      Congratulations on your book. What an experience, coming back to life.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Congratulations on your book and telling your story. I was a bird that flew away: The first for the beginning of my mom's empty nest. Without going into my story, I just want you to know that the greatest gift you can give your children is to support them on their journey, even if where they choose to live doesn't make much sense. All the lessons you taught your children when they were babies are etched into their souls. Don't worry about them. If they see you doing things to make you happy, it means so much to those little birds. It's just as hard to leave the nest as it is for you to be the nests. We don't want to tell our parents that because we don't want them to worry. It may seem sometime that they aren't communicating that much and that is because they don't want you to worry. Just drop your words of wisdom, continue to love them and tell them you can always call me if you need support. I'm sure you already do that. So I thought I'd leave you this message because you're nursing the nest. You'll be fine. Loved reading the preface to your book on Amazon. And you're right: you are not alone.

    • Elmarie912 profile image

      Elmarie912 5 years ago

      I got divorced almost three years ago after being married for 26 years. Our three daughters were 18, 20 and 23 at that stage. I homeschooled them and even when they started studying they still lived at home.

      Then I met a man from Australia and I decided to move here and get married. My youngest moved with me but after 6 months decided to go back to South Africa. Now I am suffering from serious empty nest syndrome in a new marriage and in a new country. Does it really get better?

    • IMKZRNU2 profile image

      IMKZRNU2 5 years ago from Pacific Northwest

      Mine are still teenagers but I know that this will be just around the corner for me. What an inspirational story...thanks for sharing!

    • verymary profile image

      Mary 5 years ago from Chicago area

      not yet, as mine are all teens now. hard to imagine having an empty nest someday, but the truth is I already miss their "little kid" days. so I think it will be heart-tugging for me. on the other hand, if they can all successfully transition into independent lives, that will be so rewarding to watch as a parent!

    • Rangoon House profile image

      AJ 5 years ago from Australia

      Blessed and included on my tribute lens - Colossal Squid Stars!

    • Rangoon House profile image

      AJ 5 years ago from Australia

      Very nicely written. With only one child, I am dreading the empty nest!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Love you mom...:)

    • DLeighAlexander profile image
      Author

      DLeighAlexander 5 years ago

      @anonymous: Thank you Amanda :)

    • artbyrodriguez profile image

      Beverly Rodriguez 5 years ago from Albany New York

      Very well writen lens. I'm enjoying my empty nest, too.

    • mbgphoto profile image

      Mary Beth Granger 5 years ago from O'Fallon, Missouri, USA

      I really enjoyed reading your lens. My life as taken a very similar path and we are now also empty nesters. I certainly understand the pros and cons you talk about. We are about 10 years farther down the path of life from you and I can tell you that life is good! We enjoy each other, visiting our children and grandchildren and having a strong faith in God. Thanks for sharing your story. Blessed.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I have to admit that when faced with my children living their own lives I did feel a bit of a void, I wish I had the time to feel that way now as my life tends to be a little to busy. I enjoyed reading your story so thank you for sharing

    • designsbyharriet profile image

      Harriet 5 years ago from Indiana

      I have one son who left our small nest almost 15 years ago. I still miss having him home. He was such a blessing to us when we had given up hope of a family. The time from his birth to his departure into the adult word went by in the blink of an eye. Oh how I miss it.

      Loved your lens.

    • micheleburke profile image

      Michele Marie Burke 5 years ago

      Fabulous lens! Although your children are grown and 'out of the nest' your nest sounds anything but empty. God bless you and Doug and your family as you live the next chapter.

    • SusanDeppner profile image

      Susan Deppner 5 years ago from Arkansas USA

      We've been through it. It isn't fun, but you do adjust. We're crazy about our grown kids, too. And now we really appreciate our two-time.

    • sherridan profile image

      sherridan 5 years ago

      Mine are only 15 and I am already fretting! I know I shall feel bereft when they leave home. I realise that I shall have freedom back and I'll be able to please myself completely, but I am going to have to find some new interests and friendships because my kids are my favourite ones right now. Of course, lots of young adults do return home after university due to financial necessity, and my two are currently insistent that they will not be going anywhere!

    • clouda9 lm profile image

      clouda9 lm 5 years ago

      I never thought I'd get empty-nest - wow! it hit me like a brick when the boys moved out. Now that I know they are happy and settled I feel much better. Nice getting to know you today.

    • annieangel1 profile image

      Ann 5 years ago from Yorkshire, England

      thanks for sharing this - I have enjoyed meeting you very much.

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      Nice lens.