Here is a story that is bound to bring a smile to your face, if not overwhelming boughs of laughter…We had just begun our seventh year with Abante International. Our new team was arriving, and we had our Director for the cell and her assistant picking up the colleagues at the airport. As they arrived, she would send us a selfie with the colleague so we could forward the picture to the parents to let them know they arrived safe. The very first colleague they picked up was Ryan Pruitt -a young man from Illinois. The second student they picked up was Joshua Flaherty from California. Now Joshua happens to be the son of a college friend of Brian and myself. In my excitement, I sent Joshua’s mother the picture I received, letting her know that she does not need to worry because he was in good hands, and we would take good care of him from there on out. Well, she quickly responded, “That’s great for that kid’s mom, but how’s my kid?” Yeah, I sent the wrong photo to the wrong parent on the most stressful day for them, for the colleagues and for us! Definitely not one of my brightest moments…
I’m sure those of you with kids of your own have experienced anxiety with having to let go and trust others with your most precious possession. Whether it is the first day of kindergarten, or when they get their driver’s license, or perhaps, when they go off to college, parents and guardians are constantly stressing over their precious little ones finally growing up and facing the adult world head on, and without their constant supervision. What makes the transition harder for us-parents and guardians, is the fact that we’ve been there before, and we know how hard maneuvering the “real” world can be. Achieving success in life is plenty hard on its own, but why does my child have to face the challenges I had to face? We all want a better world for our offspring, one that is empty of harsh words, rejection, violence, anxiety, etc, etc, etc…
Last year, my second son, who is 22 years old, came to me and shared the news that he was ready to marry. “sure…wait, WHAT?!?” We celebrated his wedding to a wonderful girl from Belarus on November of 2017. As I write this blog, I still can’t believe my baby is married, started his career, and is the head of his own household. Sometimes, I still get emotional that my little baby relies on someone else now for everything I used to provide. I have learned that there are new boundaries I must keep that were never there before. The empty nester syndrome hit me hard, but thankfully, my years of traveling and meeting families all over the world have taught me much about relationships, and somewhat prepared me for this season. I have watched parents deal with their children leaving home, making important life-changing decisions, “adulting”, and so on. It never gets easy, and I must tell you that it is the same with every family, regardless of race, nationality, climate, status, etc.
I felt like sharing a few tips on how I dealt (or am dealing with) the empty nest syndrome.
- Accept that your baby is growing up whether you like it or not.
- Prepare yourself emotionally to say goodbye -I left home and never looked back, I can’t expect differently from my children.
- Encourage their departure rather than make them feel guilty-even if they fail, they need to know that you still believe in them and support their decisions.
- Begin to make preparations at home for your new life as an empty nester-perhaps take a vacation, travel, change furniture, paint, etc.
- Give them wings, and watch them take off-Offer to help but don’t overwhelm them or try to control their decisions.
- Love them regardless -Continue to love them, even if they fail. Eventually they will get it right.
Here are some great links to check out: