When the children all leave home

Parents know deep down that the baby in their arms will leave home once they reach adulthood.  However it is a moment that we, as parents, do not want to arrive as it means our baby are ready, willing and able to make their own decisions and make their way in the world without undue emotional dependency on the home they have come from.  Our baby is moving toward more and more freedom and autonomy and less and less parental control.  Our main job as parents  is now complete and as parents our role are changing, for some this is difficult to accept.  We can offer advice, and can gently offer words of encouragement but we are no longer in charge, our off-spring have become adults and can now make their own decisions, whether we like it or not. 

Parents may feel fearful that something might go wrong, their child may make a decision they don't agree with and yes, they are likely too.  However  we cannot wrap our children up in cotton wool all their lives, there is a point when we must let go.  All we can do is offer gentle guidance’s, we don’t want to scare them off or make them feel like we are interfering in their lives. As Christian parents, this is when our trust in God becomes paramount.  We have set the ground work, however from this point onwards we leave them in God’s hands and pray.

Things to remember:
  • Realize that whether or not you have a career, taking care of your child was your primary job. It is normal to feel some sadness as the definition of your "job" changes.

  • Realize that you have raised your child well enough so that he/she is able to leave. You have given her both roots and wings.

  • Support your child as he/she begins to manage his own life. Be a mentor, not a manager.

  • Let your child know that you will always be there for him/her. 

  • Use technology wisely. Email, texting and instant messaging are wonderful ways to stay in touch and still allow each of you to have your space — don’t overuse it.

My eldest will be 23 early next year and he is ready to move into a new chapter of his life.  I wonder some days how he will manage.  Will he be able to wash his clothes, can he use a washing machine, does he know when to mop the floor?  I won't know the answers until he moves out and gives it ago.  He isn't moving to another state or country, I will be close by if he needs help. But he needs to learn to live independently and understand things like the cost of living, paying bills, doing without etc... I will let you know how he goes, we have a few more months to go - firstly he needs to find a place to rent (step one)!!

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  1. Oh know this and still adjusting...I have four out of the nest. Some left earlier than we had desired, but God has used it to grow them up even faster than they would have other wise. All four have done well...yes mistakes, yes some set backs, but over all great.
    I now deal with wanting to hold on to the last two, too much....I don't want the older ones to have to come pry them from me when it is their time to fly.

    I am also learning that God has some new wings for me as each leaves the nest!

  2. This is a step that is a LONG way off for me yet, and I dread it - I love having them by my side! It must be a hard thing, to let your child go and to have to "back out" of their life. I sometimes think about my mother-in-law and how hard it must be on her that her son is on the other side of the world and she may never see him again (my in-laws are getting old)... If that were me, that would rip me apart! :(
    I suppose as things change for the child, new opportunities or something new happens for the parent too though, and that's probably exciting too, sometimes. And surely increasing prayers for an absent child is not a bad thing - the Lord loves it when we depend more heavily on Him! :)

  3. Wow, yes, I'm there right now with a 23 year old in the military after 2 years of college, and another one still in college. Each child handles these transitions differently, too. Thank you for this post. Us empty-nesters have to stick together.

  4. Clara - what is interesting is as the children grow you can see that they are growing more independent and the love of having them by your side changes to wanting to watch them go off and explore. I think mothers grow at the same time as their children, so by the time they are ready to leave home you have almost reached the same point. It doesn’t stop the sadness but you are prepared.

    My mother is still sad at times for a son thousands of miles away but with modern technology it does make things a little easier and she looks forward to the regular telephone calls. Each visit is also very precious such as the one in July.

    PS I am sort of excited in the idea of becoming a grandmother one of these days (God willing) - but not anytime soon!

  5. Mary - it must be very hard having a child in the military as it come with huge risks. I would find it very difficult and I look at mothers like you and admire your strength and courage.

    I was reading last night - we should not use the word "empty-nesters", rather "open-nesters", we are now open to new opportunities such as ministering to new mothers, children in need of love, charity work etc..

    I like that idea very much.

  6. Jo, thank you. I'm not there yet but I do wonder at times what it will be like. It's helpful to read a blog like this to remind me of making choices now that will have a positive impact on there future. I don't see many posts like this.

  7. Jo, what a timely post for me. My son has actually just moved out a few days ago (hence why I was a little downhearted in one of my posts about my children).

    We did ask him to leave for a good reason, and he wasn't willing to live within the boundaries we set.

    Our relationship is still good and close. He is such a lovely and loving young man, but it is time for him to learn some things for himself.

    It was easier to let go this time (his 2nd time of moving out of home). I was feeling prepared for this weeks before I knew it would happen.

  8. hmm, yes that day seems so far away but I know it will come soon enough.
    You've given me food for thought though in how to prepare my dd for life outside our home, both in this post and in some of your other posts and comments:)
    I appreciate every season of my dd's life, I loved the baby stage, then the two and three year old cute stage and now I'm loving the 6 year old stage, so I think each stage of life has great things about it and I know that as she grows up it will be the same (though leaving home will be a big one!)

  9. Wonderful post, but I do have to make the comment that MY parents were not dreading the moment their children would grow up and leave. My mother fairly danced with joy when I announced, at 19 that I was moving out. And my dad very happily packed my brother's things for him when he finally left home at age 29.

    As for me, I still cannot even imagine not having children around. It seems like a daydream although I know that when the time comes I will not want them to go.

  10. Mum-me, considering how conservative my parents were my 3 brothers and I all moved out quite early and I don't remember any tears as we left. When I first moved out I stayed with my aunt (as I went to school in the city whilst my parents lived in the country) then I moved in with my brothers and went home on weekends. I was quite excited to have that independents, not that I used it wisely!

    I don't think my parents were too worried about us - perhaps they were and didn't say anything. However by the time I had finished, they may have change their views on moving away from home!

  11. My Mum has always said "we train our children up to let them go". My Mother truly put this into action. By letting us go and not holding on tight she gained a greater relationship with all her children. I hope I can follow in her footsteps! Great post and all the best for your son! xxx

  12. Oh my - you're being so brave and philospohical about this. I do hope things go well for you and your son! It is exciting and scary at the same time, I think.

    Like Rosemary, I'm just making the most of every minute I have.

  13. Thank you for the words of wisdom, Jo. I dread this stage, too, but I know it's what we're to move to..preparing them to be on their own and living for His glory. It all passes so quickly no matter how often I tell myself to enjoy every minute.

  14. Hello Jo, I just found your beautiful blog and joined this morning. I have two sons who have both moved out now. My 23yr old just a few months ago. I'm glad to see them making their way in the world, even though there have been some hard learning curves-for us all!! Prayer is my rock of defense when I fret over them being gone..I am still adjusting to the silence of their bedrooms.
    Entrusting them to our dear Lord is so important; and giving them space to grow as men and learn from their own mistakes is too. You make very good points in your post..such excellent advice! God bless you abundantly as you adjust to having an 'open nest'! Sounds MUCH better than 'empty' doesn't it :-)
    Trish (an Aussie in Central Tablelands, NSW)

  15. Jo...I love your idea of calling ourselves "open nesters", instead of "emptynesters"...hmmm, I'm going to have to figure out how to change my name, as I still have one at home, so I've dubbed myself "partialemptynester"...maybe I should become "openingnester", lol! It's just so much more true in the way I'm feeling: opportunities abounding for all of us...my growing son and daughter, as well as for my husband and me! Thanks for the food for thought!


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