Former empty nesters sometime have to adjust to three generations of the family living under one roof.

Re-entry Nesters: Making a New Beginning at the End Game

By Meta J. Mereday


Whether they are experiencing a real condition or are used as material for a situation comedy, empty nesters represent a wide array of the population who face the joys, sadness and grief associated with the last of the brood moving on – they hope! 

Wikipedia defines empty nest syndrome as a general feeling of loneliness that parents or guardians may feel when one or more of their children leave home. It is more common in women.  So, empty nesters are going through the withdrawal process of parenting as their young adults “go forth” and hopefully, prosper.

Unfortunately, many families have little time to fully embrace the empty nester role because economic challenges have caused many young adults to return to the homestead. 

For some families, whose lives were completely engulfed with their children, the empty nest is well feathered and happy.

For other empty nesters, who were getting used to a quieter home and reduced utility bills, not to mention actually having food last the length of time it was supposed to do, the re-entry experience is depressing.

In either case, it is important for the parents to understand that the parent-child relationship is different and it is crucial for ground rules to be established early so that all of the time and effort that was put into raising the child is not wasted with the result being a spoiled and dependent adult as well as an unhappy household. 

Empty nesters should prepare themselves and their children well in advance of a transition, whether it is a move to college or just away from home for independent living. 

Make it a point to visit the new location and stay up to date with current methods of communication to stay in touch.

Re-entry nesters should help their returning young adults to establish ground rules and a short and long term plan and understand that in order to be treated like an adult with respect, they have to act like respectful adults.  

Find out what their goals are and be supportive, but not too controlling.  However, resist the urge to completely take over and encourage them to maintain some responsibility even within your home.

Keeping the lines of communication open is the key in both situations as well as helping the young adult to be independent and responsible.   

Empty nesters, particularly women, often grieve because they know longer feel needed or have someone on whom to shower attention.  This provides an opportunity for the empty nester to rediscover talents that were dormant during the child rearing years and to pursue new interests. It is also time to rediscover a spouse or significant other and plan for long delayed trips or local activities. 

Re-entry nesters should also focus their attentions on pursuing hobbies long denied and give their adult children the space and time to pursue their own interests.  There can still be occasions to do things together, but it is no longer that parent-child role and opens itself to a new type of relationship and appreciation.

So, if you consider yourself an empty nester or have found yourself in the re-entry nester stage, there are important things to consider so that either process does not result in despair and disappointment that can lead to depression and disagreements.

Keeping the lines of communication open, building your own social life, expanding your horizon and helping your young adult to be considerate and independent will go a long way in maintaining a positive and not so empty or unhappy nest.

Mereday is a contributing writer for Regal Black Men’s Magazine, a publication dedicated to the African American community.

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