The empty nest syndrome refers to the grieving process that parents go through when their children leave home. Within the Maltese culture it has become more common for young adults to move out of their parents’ home and to start living independently. Some parents who have had the primary role to take care of their children, may have a harder time to adjust them leaving home. Changes and transitions in general can be difficult to deal with, and your kids leaving home is one of these changes. Whilst this process leading them to acceptance is a journey that they have to go through, there are some things that you can do to help your mother get through the empty nest syndrome.
Schedule quality time – You may want to set up ‘dates’ with your mother especially in the initial months after your move. Having a time when your mum knows that she will see you can help her keep her spirits up. If you remain present in her life, this is likely to help her feel close and connected and not feel like suddenly she is out of your life. If you cannot meet in person, you can have phone calls or video calls.
Sense of purpose – Your mother may feel as if her sense of purpose in life is lost now that you no longer live with her. Try and help her find something new she can focus on perhaps a new hobby, taking care of a pet or meeting some of her own friends who may also be going through something similar. You can encourage your mother to use the freer time to nurture herself, something she may not have done in a long time.
Change in identity – After many years taking care of their child, a parent may experience an identity crisis and need to redefine who they are and how they see themselves. Even after you move out of home, the role of a parent remains but your mother will need to redefine this mother role and what this will look like. She might not be cooking for you everyday but she can still be there for you and support you in your daily life. You can include her by sharing what’s going on in your life and seeking her advice on things she knows how to do well.
Seek support – If you notice that your mother is taking this transition very hard and cannot cope, encourage her to seek professional support from a therapist. Whilst it can be a major change to accept, a therapist would be able to help her better go through this process and accept you moving out.
If you think that you can benefit from professional support on this issue you can reach out here.
Dr Marilyn Muscat is registered as an Educational Psychologist with the Health and Care Professions Council in the United Kingdom where she trained. She works with children, adolescents and their families to understand more about educational, social and emotional well-being concerns that they have and to help them improve upon their difficulties. She can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 79291817.