The saying “If you love someone, set them free” holds true whenever love clashes with individual freedom. Similar is the case of the empty-nesters or parents whose children have left their homes for college or career. However, recent research on empty-nesters has received mix responses. The research proved that parents with children are happier than those without any kids only when they become empty-nesters.  Why are parents comparatively happy as empty-nesters and why does this idea arouse discomfort?

Key Takeaways:

  • Research proves that parents with children are happier than those without any kids only when they become empty-nesters.
  • The foremost duty of a parent is to build their children into a complete and capable human, the journey further is the road for the grown-up to tread.
  • The time after becoming empty-nesters are psychologically happy as there is no stress and responsibility of a child to look after and parents can introspect.
  • As empty-nesters, they can go back to being a good and loving couple by spending time with each other, understanding and listening to each other as human and not as one of the parents of their child.

Parents deserve a retreat and solace after long years of parenting

When looked at parenting from this perspective, the happiness of an empty-nester should not sound questionable. Every human has the right to have individual life, choice and priorities, even the parents. Besides, “empty-nesters” clearly say that the duty of a parent is done as the child is ready to fly and build her own home or money. The foremost duty of a parent is to build their children into a complete and capable human, the journey further is the road for the grown-up to tread. Parents cannot and should not hold the hands of their children and show the path each time. This will only cripple the decision-making and sustaining abilities of the child.

As empty-nesters, they can go back to being a good and loving couple by spending time with each other, understanding and listening to each other as human and not as one of the parents of their child.

Parents deserve this break from the long monotony of giving up all their desires and dreams to build some for their children.  It should be a retreat where they can mend and reflect on whatever is still not rusted. The time after becoming empty-nesters are psychologically happy as there is no stress and responsibility of a child to look after and parents can introspect. Maybe, they can start playing their old stereo, continue writing or reading a book they left unfinished or just collect the flowers and make a vase that they always secretly desired to do. Important is that parents deserve this solace and happiness.

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Working mothers are happier as empty nesters

After a child comes in life, the household responsibility of a woman automatically increases than those of men. The increase in domestic congestion and the never-changing work-load makes it difficult for a woman to maintain a balance. However successful she is in her career, the duty as a mother is always the foremost. This is the reason why many women drop out of their jobs and become full-time moms. While, if a woman concentrates on her work, the blame and responsibility of the child being ignored are always on the mother. In such a case, why will not moms like to be empty-nesters? They can finally focus on their work, having done with one great responsibility for their lives? Moms are allowed to loiter and travel without carrying their children with them. When the child is capable enough to walk alone and decide for itself, why should a woman carry it everywhere? The mother should get time to be just a woman, carrying not a baby, but a purse, canvas or books that have been left untouched for a long while.

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Disrupted married life

Once having married, the desire to have the first child is a wonderful feeling. After the child finally steps into the married life, the relationship of husband-wife does not remain the same. The change is as big as becoming father-mother more than a happily married couple before. This transition is but indispensable for the upbringing of the child. There is a division of responsibility between mother and father, sometimes one of them (usually mothers who have greater household responsibility of a child) fares much more than the other. The budget and earnings also need to be checked and increased which might require extra labour and sometimes in a field where there is no interest. Who will compromise and who will continue with their favourites bring problems between the couples. Even personal bonding and space is reduced in taking care of the child. Once parents are empty-nesters, they get enough time to give some to their marriage. The personal space is undoubtedly much more than earlier and with no responsibilities. As empty-nesters, they can go back to being a good and loving couple by spending time with each other, understanding and listening to each other as human and not as one of the parents of their child. Besides, it is also equally true that a loving couple with a good marriage can become the best and happy parents because the child is exposed only to love and care and no skirmishes of their parents.

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Why is the idea of happy empty-nesters ambiguous?

Largely, the reason behind why the idea of happy empty-nesters is ambiguous because it undermines to some extent the concept and longitude of parenthood. Some parents are not comfortable with being an empty-nester and get the “empty-nester syndrome” – the stress and depression after the children move out. These parents are no less good than any other parent but the idea of being separated from their children is sad and terrifying for them. When children move out, the role of parents in their life is significantly decreased but all that the parents are left with is the emptiness and silence in the absence of their children. The humdrum in the house in the presence of their children fall into silence and it terrifies them that maybe their children don’t need them anymore. Overall, the fact is that these are the parents who are not happy as empty-nesters because they are very happy as parents.

The mother should get time to be just a woman, carrying not a baby, but a purse, canvas or books that have been left untouched for a long while.

The need for happy parenthood

This is an important conclusion about parenting that the stress and depression of parenthood need to be decreased so that one can enjoy being a parent. There are cities and countries that provide resources to ease the parenthood and the bringing up of the children. When these measures are applied in parenthood, the results are always a happy parent with children. If the stress and responsibility are shared, the burden is decreased to a good extent and parenthood no more seems a toil. Perhaps then, the happy empty-nesters would be happier when they are with their children. The recent research about parenting and happy-nesters need not be a debate on how modernity is compromising with real human relations and affections. It should be a lesson to understand that parenthood needs to be a light-headed journey with responsibility and yet more happiness.

Picture Credit: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Rudrani Kumari is an intern with SheThePeople.TV

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