When life changes from revolving around the kids to adjusting to an empty nest, many parents find themselves asking “what next?” Wendy Aronssen, psychotherapist and author of Refeathering the Empty Nest: Life After the Children Leave, explains the common experiences of many parents when their last child leaves the home.
While popular culture often sees the empty nest as an opportunity for celebration, many parents commonly feel a sense of loss, insecurity, and instability. Aronssen says this is no surprise, because parents who have had the same life and job description for 18+ years are suddenly left without a label. She calls the experience of the empty nest “the shift,” because every aspect of life gets changed.
Aronssen says the emotional experience of empty nesters can follow the outlines of the Kubler-Ross stages of grief, including denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. To handle all these emotions, Aronssen encourages parents to see the empty nest as an opportunity for growth and development as individuals and as a couple.
The impact on a couple’s marriage holds potential for the great rewards of a newly revived marriage or for divorce. It takes intentionality to rediscover goals and dreams for the parents. Aronssen also brings up the complication of the boomerang children, kids that return home after being unable to move out or find a job after graduation. She emphasizes the importance of setting clear expectations on both sides. Ultimately, there is a loss in the empty nest, but there are also many opportunities for a fulfilling future.
To learn more about empty nesting or to purchase a copy of Aronssen’s book, visit the links below.
Wendy Aronssen, psychotherapist and author, Refeathering the Empty Nest: Life After the Children Leave
Many teenage boys are labeled as lazy because they spend too much time online, playing video games or watching TV.. Dr. Adam Price, author He’s Not Lazy: Empowering Your Son to Believe in Himself, says these actually want to do well in school, but are afraid of failure. To deal with this pressure, and the issues that come along with it, they choose to opt-out. They choose activities that don’t give them anxiety like school does.
Dr. Adam Price says kids need to be internally motivated to put more energy into school, and suggests an approach using the three Cs. The first is Competence, the belief you can do something motivates people to want to do it. Teach students the growth mindset — meaning that you can always get better, and there is no limit. The second C, Control, involves allowing the student to take control of some choices as long as they also deal with the consequences. The third C is Connection, meaning that the adult needs to listen to the teenager, to understand and respect them.
Dr. Price also says that parents should let kids fail because that is how they learn. When the parents become more comfortable with failure and uncertainty, it allows their kids to grow and become successful adults.
Dr. Adam Price, author, He’s Not Lazy: Empowering Your Son to Believe in Himself
Colleges are required by Federal law to present anti-sexual assault training to new students, but rather than instilling “no means no,” some experts think we need to do much more to enlist men to help prevent sexual assault. Experts discuss how it can be done by making men allies, rather than regarding them as potential perpetrators, and through bystander training.
Teenage Boys: They’re Not Lazy
Teenage boys are often labeled as lazy by parents who see that their homework isn’t done and their attitude is one of disinterest. An expert psychologist explains the inner workings of teen boys and how parents can bring out the best in them.
Only children, also known as “onlies,” have sometimes been labeled as the spoiled and selfish children of society. In studies from the 1980’s, being an only child was likened to having a disease. Beth Apone Salamon, Director of Communications & Television at Rutgers University, and Lauren Sandler, author of One and Only: The Freedom of Having an Only Child and the Joy of Being One, approach the concept of only children in different ways. Salamon voices her concern that once her parents are gone, she won’t have anyone to share family memories with. In contrast, Sandler loves being an only child as well as raising an only child: “We’re just selfish people raising selfish children.” Dr. Susan Newman, psychologist and author of Parenting an Only Child, points out that it makes sense that many onlies thrive more than children with siblings do, because the attention and time allotted by parents to their one child is more concentrated than if they were to divide these things among multiple children. Newman also talks about the importance of the “sibling substitute,” a friend, cousin, or family member with whom the only child can relate to and become comfortable with. By building relationships with “sibling substitutes,” onlies are able to connect with people other than their parents, which has proved beneficial in the long run. Additional studies have debunked myths about only children, concluding that the number of siblings a person has has little impact on his or her personality and life.
Only Children and Their Parents: Only children have been villified for more than a century as inevitably selfish, spoiled and lonely. Yet research finds that children without siblings are psychologically quite similar to those with brothers and/or sisters. Today the proportion of only children is increasing. Experts refute the myths about only children and discuss how parents can help children navigate life with no siblings.
The Sense of Touch: The sense of touch is often taken lightly, yet it conveys more emotion than any other sense because it literally has a separate emotional wiring system. A neuroscientist explains the sense of touch, how it works, the power it has over everyday decisions, and what can happen when it’s not working as it should.
We’ve reported on how dogs can sniff out a variety of diseases in people with scientists trying to create a mechanical nose to do the same thing. Now a study presented to the American Chemical Society shows they’re making progress. Researchers have identified a signature odor in 90% of cases of prostate cancer and have developed a chemical test to detect it. Doctors are looking for an alternative to the PSA test to detect prostate cancer because of the high proportion of false positives.
People who are depressed have a surprisingly high risk for heart disease. A new study in the journal Atherosclerosis shows that depression is just as much of a cardiovascular risk as obesity and high cholesterol. The 10-year study finds that depression is to blame for about 15% of all heart disease deaths, a rate exceeded only by smoking and high blood pressure. About 350 million people around the world suffer from depression.
It might be easier to get into an argument when you’re tired because you’re misreading the emotions of other people. A study in the journal Neurobiology of Sleep and Circadian Rhythms shows that sleepy people have trouble interpreting some emotions in the faces of others compared to those who are well rested. Tired people can read fear and anger in others’ faces but more subtle emotions are misinterpreted far more often.
And finally, slightly more than half of parents give sports the green light for their kids but about one in every six completely rule them out. The reason? Concussions. The rest of parents, about a third of them, allow participation on a sport by sport basis, according to a Harris survey for the American Osteopathic Association. About two thirds of parents say basketball and baseball are ok for kids. But less than 20% approve of their children playing football.
We reported last week on the opioid epidemic. Now a new study finds yet another symptom of opioid addiction—amnesia. The CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report describes a group of 14 patients—almost all opioid addicts–who couldn’t remember things they’d just been told. Along with short-term memory loss, the patients had abnormal MRI scans as well. Doctors are concerned the patients represent a new condition triggered by substance abuse that they were not previously aware of. Researchers say most of the patients recovered their normal memory after several months substance free.
Sitting in traffic is a sure way to increase your stress level and a new study shows it also increases domestic violence. A study at Louisiana State University correlated 25 million traffic observations and two million police reports over four years and found that extreme traffic jams increase the likelihood of domestic violence when people get home by about 6 percent.
People who’ve suffered concussions are held out of sports and school until they’re considered recovered but a new study shows that even then, they may have trouble driving. The study in the Journal of Neurotrauma tested the driving skills of 14 people who’d had a concussion but felt they were now over it. Researchers say that at times they drove as if they were drunk.
And finally…parents who use threats and raised voices to get their kids to behave often end up doing the opposite. A study in the journal Child Development shows that kids parented harshly as ‘tweens are more likely to drop out of school, engage in early sex, and commit theft a few years later. Researchers say those kids reject their domineering parents and seek approval from their peers instead.