Dealing with the Empty Nest Single Parent Syndrome
For the single parent that has made their child or children the very centre of their being, this is indeed a very scary time, if not downright terrifying. Mom may be so proud that her baby girl finally made it and is off to college, but the moment those shoes walk into that empty house it hits her as hard as a ton of bricks. This major part of life is now over. Life may now have a lighter load, but more often than not this is a new and heavier cross to carry.
The empty nest single parent situation is one of mixed emotions and with it often comes an outpouring of grief that many parents don't expect. Even more surprising is the fact that this mourning stage can begin well and truly before your kids move out of home. While the house is alive with kids that come and go and are in constant need of this or that, the single parent is needed and his or her worth is validated. When the house becomes quiet and empty because they leave, the single parent's worst nightmare often follows. They are suddenly all alone.
It takes time to adjust to the idea when single parents end up being alone, especially those that never found or made time for their own intimate relationships and friendships. Theirs was a constant life of playing the perfect single supermom or dad that never had the time for a date, or had dates but their kids just always came first. This is the ultimate price that single moms and dads pay- loneliness once the children leave. It doesn't have to be that way though. There is plenty of assistance available to cope with feeling lonely and perhaps depressed. It's natural to feel that way when your children leave home, although many threaten to have a huge party to celebrate!
As parents, whether single or partnered we pour much of our energy into raising our children and when they leave the impact is very painful and difficult to work through. Understanding the parent-child dynamics help ease the hurt. It will still be painful, but if you start releasing your children little by little from the start and understand that our job as parents is to equip them to one day take their place as responsible adults in the world, it's a bit easier to accept. The secret is to get a life well and truly before you have to experience the single parent empty nest.