This blog is a continuation of part 1, where I discussed some of the changes that families may experience during the phase when adult children move out of the parental home. In this second half of my blog, I wish to focus more on different strategies which can support with adjusting to the changes that come with this stage of family life.
Gorchoff, John, & Helson (2008), studied the perceptions of happiness in the couple relationship when their adult children would have left the parental home. The researchers found a strong link between whether the couple enjoys their time together and happiness in the relationship. Thus, according to Gorchoff, John, & Helson (2008), couples who invest in finding meaningful and enjoyable activities to do together with their partner tend to report feeling better adjusted to the changes brought about when their children leave the home. So it would be supportive to think about and also discuss the activities that the couple might enjoy doing together, especially if these were activities that the couple did not have enough time and energy for when they were still very much involved in their parenting roles. While I write this point, I also keep in mind single, widowed, separated or divorced parents who might not necessarily have a spouse or a partner to share the changes brought about during this stage with. It would also be supportive to think of enjoyable activities, such as self-care activities, and possibly it could also be a stage where the parent could invest more time in connections with those who were present in their lives or in building new connections through meeting new people.
Newman (2008) also discusses how parents who give their children a sense of independence (which is age appropriate) prior to their children leaving the parental home, tend to report a sense of pride and joy when their adult children move out. As Newman’s (2008) research suggests, this is because such a strategy seems to prepare the children for the stage of moving out, and this also, in turn, leaves space for the couple to also prepare themselves for this stage in their lives. One can think of this idea in terms of a gradual transition, where when the parents are willing to promote the autonomy of their children gradually, the family could also adjust and prepare gradually for when the children move out.
Rebecca Cassar is a Family Therapist practicing the Systemic Approach. She specializes in offering therapy to families, couples and individuals who are experiencing distress in their relationships. She can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 79291817.