Releasing our children to the world and becoming empty nesters sounds like a logical, freeing next step…after all, parenting is a hard job!
But many of us struggle when our children walk out the door- on their own- for the first time.
When my fourth child graduated from high school, I felt sad and sought encouragement for empty nesters; assurance that my feelings of loss woven with excitement were normal.
A parent guides, feeds, shops, counsels, chauffeurs, encourages, corrects, cheers, and supports (hitting repeat again and again)—naming just a few of the endless tasks of parenting.
And one day it slowly shifts, trickles down and eventually stops. As empty nesters, gone is the persistent pull to be present, engaged, and of course, at times annoyed and aggravated.
But also gone with our children is laughter at nothing, hugs, our hero status, fun adventures, and endless “I love you’s”.(Well, maybe not gone but different!)
Although we work on establishing healthy relationships with adult children and love our time together, things change and our relationships change as they should. (Until grandchildren arrive and we get to relive the joy of having small children bursting with delight around us!)
I love being a mom and relished the years spent as a family of six under one roof. I encouraged and pushed my kids to be independent, but then it happened — they begin to think and act for themselves leaving us feeling irrelevant.
Managing the tension of gratitude that our children are bursting into independence and sadness because of the spaces left by their absence is what encouragement for empty nesters is about. We need courage to find our new path, move forward and grow.
Recently discussing the realities of being an empty nester with a friend she said, “I’m thrilled and ready for this next stage of life.” Although I was not thrilled it showed me that we all process change differently.
Regardless of how you are handling your kids leaving home, I hope this encouragement for empty nesters helps you transition and continue to fulfill your God-given purpose without parenting being your primary focus.
“Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.”
1 Thessalonians 5:18 NLT
Empty Nest Syndrome Meaning
I had not heard of empty nest syndrome until researching this article. Understanding the meaning of empty nest syndrome helps you realize that the grief and sadness that accompany an empty nest are normal for many people.
“Empty nest syndrome is the name used to describe the sadness—and sometimes even distress—that parents feel when their children move out. People experiencing empty nest syndrome may display feelings of loss, sadness, anxiety, grief, irritability, and fear and it impacts both men and women.”
Working through emotional triggers while becoming an empty nester is normal, but an unhealthy adjustment can threaten to become our identity.
Although it’s a transition when children leave home, we don’t have to stay aimless, stuck, or confused about our next steps.
We can also reach out to a trusted friend, counselor, or pastor to help us process, find encouragement for empty nesters, and move on.
“We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation.”
Romans 5:3-4 NLT
Encouragement for Empty Nesters
7 Tips to Find Encouragement as an Empty Nester
- God remains the same regardless of what season of life we are in.
“There should be a consistency that runs through us all. For Jesus doesn’t change—yesterday, today, tomorrow, he’s always totally himself.”
Hebrews 13:8 MSG
- Our children are not our identity. Their choices, mistakes, and failures do not belong to you. Only an identity rooted in Christ is sustainable and life-giving. After making years of decisions for our children, it takes practice to detach ourselves from their lives.
- Seek help and find resources if your struggle with loneliness or empty nest syndrome is prolonged.
- You don’t have to continue to spend time with friends who were part of your life as a parent unless they are true friends who value you apart from your kids. New friends are out there.
- Learn about yourself on the other side of parenthood. Although parenting never stops; empty nesting is a different phase of parenting. One great encouragement for empty nesters is that releasing children comes with the gift of more time. Start a new hobby, discover a new interest, or chase a dream. It is not too late.
- Work on skills to become a healthy parent to your adult children. It’s a new relationship. Learn to establish new boundaries and ways to communicate.
- Find joy in your relationship with God. Grow closer to Jesus, serve others, and fulfill your God-given mission to shine the light of Christ on others.
Bible Verses to Find Encouragement for Empty Nesters
When our children leave home it ushers in change. Some of us do well with change while others really struggle. I am not a great ‘changer’, so I work on it.
Here are some Bible Verses to encourage you as an empty nester whether you or thriving or need comfort.
6 Bible Verses to Encourage Empty Nesters
“There is a season (a time appointed) for everything and a time for every delight and event or purpose under heaven”
Ecclesiastes 3:1 AMP
“Forget about what’s happened; don’t keep going over old history. Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new. It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it? There it is! I’m making a road through the desert, rivers in the badlands.
Isaiah 43:19 MSG
Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens.[a] He never changes or casts a shifting shadow.
James 1:17 NLT
“This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
Joshua 1:9 NLT
“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”
Jeremiah 29:11 NLT
“Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble in dread before them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not fail you or abandon you.”
Deuteronomy 31:6 AMP
Books for Empty Nesters
If you need additional resources to help you process, recover, heal, and eventually thrive as an empty nester here are three insightful books to consider.
A View from an Empty Nest by Bonnie Sparrman
As you send your child off to college or to start their independent adult life, do you suddenly find yourself grieving the loss of your kid’s childhood? Are you struggling to adjust to your shifting role and life in a quieter home? You are not alone.
Bonnie Sparrman has been where you are and is here to offer reassurance and encouragement. In this helpful guide to navigating your new reality.
Saying goodbye to a child as they leave the nest and learn to fly ushers parents into an emotional time of grief, joy, and nostalgia. Release My Grip, by popular blogger Kami Gilmour, offers inspiration and practical insight as she reveals the surprising truth she learned while knee-deep in this sacred season of parenthood.
Empty Nest, Full Life: Discovering God’s Best for Your Next by Jill Savage
IT’S HAPPENING! You weren’t always sure you’d get here, but the kids grew up and are surviving–more or less successfully. But what now?! If you’re like most moms, you’re caught between grief and delight, and full of questions, loose ends, hopes, and regrets.
Prayer for Empty Nesters
Prayer is essential– every day in every stage of life. If you are looking for encouragement for empty nesters ask God to help you. He is our greatest guide and source of peace in times of trouble.
You can ask Jesus to fill the raw gaps and sadness associated with loss. Empty nesting is a new season with exciting potential but is also a season of loss and may require time to grieve.
A beautiful prayer to encourage you as an empty nester..May the Lord of peace and endless comfort embrace and guide you to your next purpose. May your life be filled with love and the joy of the Lord.
How have you found encouragement for empty nesters? Would love to hear from you in the comments.
Mary Rooney Armand
Mary is the creator and writer for the faith-based blog ButterflyLiving.org. Her writing is featured on multiple Christian websites and she is the author of, “Identity, Understanding, and Accepting Who I am in Christ” and the Devotional Collection Life Changing Stories available on Amazon.