Empty Nest Syndrome

The summer before your child goes to university comes the realisation that life is going to change forever.  Recently, I have encountered a number of mothers coming to terms with their first born leaving home. They are filled with fear, vulnerability,  sadness and loneliness. Strangely, it is like they are preparing to grieve.

These feeling are very serious and quite common. Under a condition called Empty Nest Syndrome (ENS), parents can suffer depression, loss of interest in life, health / diet problems and relationship issues. Apparently, the syndrome is most common with women and is known to be quite prevalent amongst Asian households which have a history of living together as extended families.

I recall 30 years ago when my aunt went to university. She was the youngest of seven siblings and the first in my mum’s family to attend university. She chose to go as far away from home as possible, to Yorkshire.  Dropping her off was a big family affair. My gran cried for days and missed her terribly. It was the start of my aunt’s independence and my gran knew it.

More recently, my bhabhi (sister-in-law) is preparing for her son to leave home. She has spoken to me of how it has hit her that life will change for them forever and he will no longer be her little boy but a grown man finding his own way. She is also preparing for the fact that he may never come home to live. I can imagine for many Asian families this is a daunting thought as university is just meant to be a short leave from residence.  I know that my parents were really heartbroken when I didn’t return home from university.

It seems that Empty Nest Syndrome is a lot about cutting the umbilical cord.


2 Comments to “Empty Nest Syndrome”

  1. Just reading this made my stomach turn. I’m a mother of 2 girls and I can imagine how it must feel to have to “let go” of my kids. We as parents become so attached to our kids and they change the whole dynamic and atmosphere of the family unit. Letting them go doesn’t only mean dealing with our own personal attachment issues to our kids, but also having to adjust to the new environment without them. I also feel that as long as they are living under my roof they have to follow my rules and I can watch out for them. Once they leave they have to form their own rules and navigate in the world with the knowledge and morals and principles we have installed in them as parents. This is scary. Just trusting in the them helps us to feel some sense of relief and helps them to grow into fully independent individuals.

  2. My son who is 19 1/2 and my only child now is planning to move to another state here in Australia to stay with his friend. As I know his friend who is a nice boy I am not really that worried but it is now hitting me that he is going out on his own and part of me is happy for him but the bigger part is scared and upset that he is leaving me for who knows how long. The thing is my son is on a government payment and he will be getting more when he leaves the family home which there is only myself and him, so as his friend told him not to worry that there is a place to help the interstate people not to be on the streets, which of course sent panic through my being. He wanted to go this weekend coming as he gets paid tomorrow but realised that after the air fare he would only have maybe $20 spare, that is not enough for a meal, so he has decided maybe to leave it for another 2 weeks when he gets paid again. I suggested that he wait till he has some more spare cash just in case. I also told him that the door is always open and I would never turn him away no matter what has happened…And I never thought that empty nest syndrome was real till now….

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