It’s late August and flocks of future college freshmen have begun their migration to campuses around the country. For parents left at home, it can also be a stressful and sad time. But recent studies suggest that an empty nest can boost parents’ relationships with each other. Whether you’re a mom or dad, we want to hear from you: How are you coping now that the kids have left home for college or a first job?

Dr. Joshua Coleman, Co-chair of the Council on Contemporary Families; author of "When Parents Hurt: Compassionate Strategies When You and Your Grown Child Don't Get Along"
Madeline Levine, psychologist; author of "Teach Your Children Well"
Christie Mellor, author "Fun Without Dick and Jane: A Guide to Your Delightfully Empty Nest"

  • Michael: The underlying premise of your blurb is that there is a “mom
    AND dad.” This demographic statistic only covers a small group in
    communities of color, where single moms are making it the best they can since many of the men that would have been eligible have been summarily incarcerated and thus not in the home. Please include the empty nester
    women whose sons and daughters leave home for other cities or college.
    At some point, you need to do a show on how many women AND men are empty nesters based on their kids being shot in their teens.

    Kathleen Rand Reed
    The Rand Reed Group
    Washington, DC and Greenbrae, CA

  • Scott McGrew

    I feel like I should leave a nice note just based on the buzz kill note. Looking forward to hearing the show.

  • theresa

    Also single mom and soon to send mine to college. I plan to work more, date and have more dinner parties. I know I will miss him and all the laughter of his group.

  • Robert Thomas

    In my San Jose middle class home, I grew up with three siblings.

    This seemed kind of sparse to me, at the time. Our next door neighbors raised five kids and the family across the street had seven (which we agreed was a LOT).

    My experience is anecdote, but I have to believe that the relative shrinking size of families (at least those otherwise like mine) and statistically greater emotional investment in each child that this entails has caused their “launching” to have in turn caused, on average, more trauma.

  • Connie Johnson

    A single mom with 2 kids. One has been out of the house for 7 years now. The other is a young adult with Down syndrome. While my older daughter separated on her own, sometimes painfully, my younger daughter does not have that same instinct. I am having to orchestrate it myself, because I know that the greatest thing I can do for her is to make sure she is in a stable setting well before I die. It goes against my heart’s desire to empty my nest but I have to do it. If I had my way, we would have a family compound where we each have an apartment and a common area.

  • Toni Bassaro Piccinini

    When my oldest child started her senior year of high school I recognized that each and every event we celebrated as a family—from the World Series to Ground Hog Day—would be The Last Time! Now after sending all three off to college and three teary dorm drop-offs I can see that the processing I did during her senior launched me back to the center of my life. And that experience of loss and reclaiming prompted me to write “The Goodbye Year: Wisdom and Culinary Therapy to Survive Your Child’s Senior Year of High School and Reclaim the YOU of you” (Seal Press, September 2013)

  • A Listener

    Something that hasn’t been mentioned that I think should is about the siblings that get left behind when the older ones go off to school. I’m the older sibling part of a single parent household, and I felt an immense sense of guilt for leaving my mother alone. The pressure I feel is nothing compared to what my younger sibling feels, as he feels responsible for taking care of my mother, spending time with her, and even feels guilty for leaving for college next year.

  • olive

    I always think the driver here is why is parent engaging with the child excessively or too much. If it is for the parent’s benefit, I’d say back off. If it is for the child’s benefit, well, really? In what way is daily communication (or too much contact) a benefit for the child in terms of creating new friends. problem solving, dealing with loneliness?

  • Meredith

    As a married thirty year old living in California away from my parents in Texas, I do often worry about how my parents are handling the empty-nester syndrome. I don’t particularly know why I worry because my parents seem to be handling everything well. I have however noticed that with my youngest sibling entering his senior year of college, my mom has regressed a little in her acceptance of me as an independent adult and has been inadvertently parenting me in a way similar to high school. It can be a little frustrating but I understand that she is in a transition phase and I want to support her. Also, we are very close and talk constantly and I strongly feel and agree with Dr. Coleman that is because we truly like and enjoy each other.

  • Beth Wolfer

    My youngest of three daughters is a senior in high school and I confess to completely dreading the empty nest. As a single mom, I have found my greatest joy and sense of confidence in mothering and raising fantastic individuals. I have a good job and friends and hobbies, but can’t imagine any of those filling the void that will be felt upon my youngest girl’s departure. I appreciate this topic and this discussion very much. Thank you.

  • Gracie

    What no one seems to have said is that just because we leave the nest, you’ll always be our parents

  • Julia Nelson-Gal

    I have two sons in college. One of them was home this summer and I decided to move him to a different bedroom so we could start using AirB&B to make some extra money renting his room. He seemed very put out that if he no longer had a place of his own in our home. I felt badly about that but he’s been out of the house for five years now and it felt like it was appropriate for him to be able to stay in the different bedroom.

  • DarshanaNadkarni

    Thank you very much for consistently great shows. Absolutely love all your thought-provoking programs.
    Here is link to my blog – and my twitter handle is @DarshanaN
    My blog writing has enabled me to more meaningfully engage with the world and given me more intentionality and focus in all my activities. I also get complementary tickets and entrance to conferences, plays etc. It has been absolutely fun way of self expression that has brought a lot of richness in my life as an emptynester.

    Thank you and regards,

  • Dharcey

    I am the third of seven children. I’m also the child of an alcoholic mother, something we’ve all battled with for years. Having so many kids, my mother’s nest emptied over the span of 12 years. It was when my sister, the youngest, was in highschool that her condition (her drinking) escalated dramatically. She’s always dealt with social anxiety and because of that has not built a lot of friendships or hobbies. I remember several occasions when she would use us as an excuse not to participate in events. I can’t help but wonder if she had been able to overcome this anxiety, whether the last few years wouldn’t have spiraled so quickly into what she is now facing, which is liver cirrhosis and kidney failure. She looks forward to nothing in the future, despite her children getting married, the promise of grandchildren, and the time she can spend having fun with my father. The hardest part for us is convincing her that she has talents, skills, and her own life.

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