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Fathers of the Empty Nest

by TJ Davis | April 28th, 2010 | Teens

Empty Nest Syndrome is a layman’s term commonly applied to the feelings of sadness and loss felt by a mother when a grown child leaves home. Often, this emotional reaction occurs in the fall, when newly adult-age children go away to college. It is a common misconception that only mothers are affected by the separation of children from the household. This is possibly because it is primarily women who seek professional help in emotional crisis, so statistical data tend to show Empty Nest Syndrome to be more a mother’s affliction.

Men, however, are not immune to the grief brought on by children leaving home. Many simply choose to suffer silently. This is not the wisest course of action, it turns out. About the time that kids are flying the coop, men often also face issues with reaching a plateau in their careers and may be at a loss as to what to do with the sudden increase of spousal together-time, which had been in short supply with the children at home. During this time, men who choose to hide or repress their sadness and loneliness – especially from their spouses – sometimes get caught up in a cycle of negative behavior, such as social withdrawal, excessive drinking, or infidelity, all of which can lead to marital problems, including divorce.

Good advice for fathers facing an empty nest is to plan ahead. Anticipating the forthcoming boon of spare time and privacy at home can help men plan activities, both with and without their spouses, to fill the gaps. Staying active is an important part of maintaining higher spirits. Resume an old hobby, or start a new one. Traveling is an excellent way to beat the blahs. If expense is an issue, plan smaller day trips or weekend getaways, just to get out of the house. Joining a gym, club or social group allows for meeting new people and can improve health and overall well-being.

Most of all, men should remember that it is not unmanly to admit, “I miss them.” Opening honest lines of communication during difficult times can help empty nest parents cope with the challenges of a changing home life without sacrificing a loving relationship.

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