The Empty Nest
Well, Anneka has been away for a month. She comes back for a few weeks to take care of some business - but then she will leave for months.
The empty nest stuff that everyone talks about it is true. But here are a few things I can say early on that you need to know.
Don’t be afraid of it. The fear of the unknown is more powerful and damaging than facing reality. It’s going to happen, and even before it begins, say to yourself and your spouse. “We will get through this.”
If you raised them right - you’d never lose connection. That isn’t to say that they will call you every day or come home every weekend from college. That is to say; they recognize your authority and wisdom. Teaching kids these two things early in life will help them submit and seek you later in life.
Cry and often. You miss them, and there is no sin in that. It isn’t a sign of weakness; it is a sign of strength.
Prepare for surprises. Too many moving parts and surprises. While you can and should do all you can do to prepare, just understand - things break, accidents happen, and life keeps going on. Please don’t gamble with their future.
Don’t micromanage - but don’t ignore the obvious. There is a balance here, and if you get it right most of the time - most of the time you will do very well. My rule of thumb is to delegate to them as much as possible - intervene after they have done everything right but still need help.
Your marriage will change. If you look at each other and say, “Who are you?” You’re in trouble. That isn’t to say that there are qualities about each other that you hadn’t seen since before you had kids. But if one spouse dedicated their whole life to their kids and thus ignored their marriage, you are going to have to start courting again. You can do it; it’s how all of this got started - remember?
Just because they left the house doesn’t mean that you’re not their parent. Too often, I see kids leave home, and mom or dad say, “Ok, see ya!” No - your support, love, wisdom, and experience will not only be needed but will also be used to its fullest extent.
Sacrifice is the name of the game. The idea here is that any sacrifice you make does the following - strengthen your marriage and/or give your kid every chance to succeed. Failure will happen. Learn how to build on failures and move on. Don’t belittle; encourage each other.
Never compare your kid or marriage to someone else’s. You’re not supposed to get their results. They worked for theirs. Work for yours.