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Beginning Signs of Empty Nest Depression 

My daughter asked me the other day, “ How do you feel now that I’m about to enter my last year of high school?” “Good”, I did reply briefly, not sure she would want to hear my long answer. Was I lying? No- definitely not. I’m an overly proud Mom and I couldn’t be more happier for her and her future. But here is a warning-  I think Empty Nest Depression starts even before the kids leave the house.

In her younger years, I had friends who would tell me to brace myself for the time when she no longer wants to kiss me goodbye when she gets dropped off at school. It was about middle school when this happened, not exactly as dramatic as I thought it would be. Just because I wasn’t kissing her goodbye didn’t mean I had to stop telling her that I loved her before she exited the car. 

What is Empty Nest Depression?

Empty Nest Depression otherwise known as Empty Nest Syndrome, is the sadness that the parent feels as their children grow up, get older and potentially move out or go away to college.

Power of Prayer

When she started middle school it really brought on anxiety for me. The traumas that I experienced at that age flooded my brain. I had to dig deep and talk to God about these feelings. 

I was reminded of this prayer I had learned in Church, it was about asking God to help let go a little bit with your kids as they grow and need space, find new interests, etc. As I repeated that prayer, I added to it, “ Lord help me with this anxiety that I feel. Please let my daughter experience a totally different life than what I had” If you ever wonder what it is like when God speaks to you, it’s crystal clear thoughts and answers. Suddenly the answer came, God said “You’ve been though a lot and suffered but your daughter won’t. Don’t worry.”

That has been my mantra ever since. Don’t worry, she is experiencing life differently.

clear glass candle holder on brown wooden table
Photo by Markus Spiske on Pexels.com

To answer her question more in-depth, how do I feel now that she is entering her last year of high school, I mean besides “good” LOL, I still have to navigate through the change. The thought of my daughter moving out for college brings me to tears. Like I’m literally tearing up right now as I type this. Also the parenting plan I have with her dad will change obviously. I have had 50/50 joint custody over the last 16 years. How does that work after she enters into college, OMG I have no idea! 

What do you do if you think you have Empty Nest Depression?

Quick Disclaimer: What I’m about to mention are things that are helping me. If you find that the things below aren’t going to work for you or you feel more down than usual, it may be time to seek professional advice from your doctor and/or a therapist. This is informational only and does not replace the advice from a professional.

If you have a teen right now and you notice you have been a bit more emotional than usual, it could be the empty nesting depression feelings that are creeping in. 

Here are some things you can do to navigate through this major life change.

  1. Make time with your teen, even if its just for 2 hours.
  2. Talk about it with friends, especially friends who have experienced this and their kids are in college or are grown.
  3. Focus on other positive aspects in your life.
  4. Reinforce positive thinking and affirmations, such as my kids have a good head on their shoulders, they have a bright future, they are on a good path. 
  5. Continuous prayer.
  6. Relax and think about the accomplishments your child has made and that you have made as a parent. 
  7. Exercise
  8. Revisit your hobbies or create a new one.
  9. Start a business.
  10. Plan some weekend getaways with your spouse.

If there is any solid piece of advice I could give someone who is going through this, it’s that everything will be ok and that you raised a great kid, with hopes and dreams, independence , and who is able to speak their mind. That’s a pretty darn good thing to focus on!

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