For a parent, living with an empty nest is a continual challenge. While there are undoubtedly benefits to be enjoyed, the disconnect from the everyday occurrences of your children's lives can be concerning - even if you are incredibly proud of the people your children have grown to be.
After all, parents never stop worrying about their kids. Even when they're fully-grown adults who have proven adept at navigating the ways of the world, the protective instinct lingers. Many a parent has found themselves struggling with worries about their grown children; whether it's panicking at the mention of a motorbike purchase or fretting over their career path, the worries don't end just because children have flown the nest.
These worries are normal, but if you find them particularly troublesome, you may be pleased to learn there are things you can do to improve the situation. Read on to find out more...
#1 - Set a time for weekly updates
Many empty nesters struggle to balance a desire to check in with their children and the desire to let them live their own lives. One of the best ways of counterbalancing this issue is to introduce a weekly "catch up" phone call or visit; something that is set in the calendar and rarely deviated from.
This arrangement ensures that, should you find yourself worrying about an issue your children are facing, you're never going to have to wait too long for a catch up - and you don't have to feel like you are crowding them, either.
#2 - Become an advisor rather than an instructor
For the formative years of your children's life, the role of a parent is to be the instructor. You say what goes, and what doesn’t. You - as an adult - know what is in their best interests.
When your children have grown and flown, this relationship changes - but that doesn't mean you can't contribute your ideas about what might be best for them. However, how you frame the discussion is different. Say that they've decided to buy that motorbike you've always worried about them wanting. When they were younger, you could have just said no, and that would have been it. As they are now an adult, you can't say no, but you can offer advice about the different types of motorcycle accident and statistical chances of severe injury; essentially, you’re providing advice that will hopefully lead them to a less troublesome conclusion.
If they do decide to go ahead anyway, you may find it beneficial to read through this article on accepting your grown children's choices. You'll still worry, of course, but acceptance can make the process easier on you.
#3 - Read social media
Few of us want to be that parent, who comments on their children's social media and winds up on those "embarrassing parents" rundowns that Buzzfeed and similar sites just love to publish from time to time. However, social media can offer a passive insight into your children's life, and can help to reassure you that they're doing okay.
As a result, request access to your children's social media, but as a viewer, not a contributor. If you want to throw in the occasional comment then do so by all means, but it's not required; you can essentially use social media as a way of checking they are okay, almost like a magic mirror - you can see, but you don't have to intervene.
While it is highly unlikely you will ever stop worrying about your children's well-being, the strategies above can make coping with empty nest worries that little bit more manageable. Good luck!