Most parents look forward to the time their child leaves home and finds success and happiness in life. It’s part of the natural process of rearing children. What many parents don’t anticipate is that the worry for our children never goes away, even when they’re living their own lives as adults. In fact, a study published in The Gerontologist confirms that many parents actually lose sleep worrying about their adult children. The study was conducted by researchers from Brigham Young, Penn State, and the University of Texas.
Some of the things parents worry about are their adult child’s financial status, their health, their education if they’re college students, their relationships, and more. Perhaps most notable, however, is the feeling of meaninglessness many parents feel when their kids grow up and move away.
“Empty nest syndrome is a feeling of loneliness or sadness that occurs among parents after children grow up and leave home,” according to Psychology Today.
Furthermore, it’s not just moms who worry. Dads worry, too.
Amber J. Seidel, Ph.D., one of the researchers who conducted the study, said this.
“CURRENT RESEARCH ON YOUNG ADULTS SUGGESTS THAT PARENTS AND CHILDREN ARE MAINTAINING HIGH LEVELS OF INVOLVEMENT,” SHE SAID. “ALTHOUGH PARENTS AND ADULT CHILDREN HAVE ALWAYS MAINTAINED SOME LEVEL OF INVOLVEMENT, WE DO SEE AN INCREASE IN WHAT IS OFTEN TERMED ‘HELICOPTER PARENTING’ AND ‘LANDING PAD’ CHILDREN.”
She noted, however, that having stress isn’t the problem. It’s our ability to cope with stress.
“IT IS IMPORTANT TO REMEMBER THAT HAVING STRESS PRESENT IN OUR LIVES IS NOT THE PROBLEM,” SEIDEL TOLD CBS NEWS. “IT’S THE INABILITY TO COPE IN HEALTHY WAYS WITH THE STRESS THAT IS PROBLEMATIC AND MAY LEAD TO IMMUNE SUPPRESSION.”
Some suggestions to help you manage stress if you’re suffering from empty nest syndrome.
- Exercise daily
- Eat a well-balanced nutritional diet
- Keep a journal to write down your thoughts
- Set aside time for yourself every day
- Lower your consumption of caffeine and alcohol
- Find a place to do volunteer work
- Find someone you can talk to about how you feel
Remember, it’s all a part of the natural changes that happen in life. Oh, and if you’re a person whose parent is losing sleep over you, reassure your parents that you’re doing just fine!