"The empty-nest syndrome" is one of three mid-life transitions (menopause and retirement are the other two). But even though transitions are a normal part of the mid-life experience, they can still be traumatic.

So the first thing you need to do is get every bit of information you can about them. That way your faith will have some knowledge behind it. Then you can overcome in these areas.

"The empty-nest syndrome" is used to describe the time after children become independent and leave their parents' home. It's not necessarily the point at which they become independent, because many times they can be independent and still be living at home. So it's referring to once they leave home. (If they were still in the nest, then the nest wouldn't be empty, would it?)

Generally, the empty-nest period begins from the departure of the last child to the beginning of retirement, an average of 15 years. It can be a bleak and lonely period, especially for the woman. But in our society, since so many women work, it's not as bleak and lonely for them. By the time some women get home from work, they're tired and don't want to be bothered anyway. So this can be a blessed time for them, in a sense.

Now once you go through the empty-nest syndrome, you're over it. If you happen to have children at a late age, by the time your nest is empty, you'll also be going through other transitions, like menopause or retirement. So it can be a difficult time, but the Word can get you through it.

Leaving the Nest
It's a fact of life that your children will have to leave home one day, so you'd better prepare yourself for that day while they're still growing up.

You should allow your children a little more freedom at each stage of their lives instead of waiting until they're old enough to be on their own and saying, "All right, you're free now." If you do that, both you and they will have a difficult time with their leaving.

When my son left home for the first time to attend Bible school for two years, I missed him, but I didn't have a difficult time. I grew up in a family of 13 kids and, age-wise, I fell right in the middle. One was already out of the house, but I saw six of my other siblings leave home. So when my son left, it was a very natural thing as far as I was concerned.

People asked me if I was having a hard time with it, and I told them, "No. A child is supposed to leave home." I saw it as normal, because in my own experience I'd had good parents and a good family life.

Now if my son didn't want to leave home, that would have caused me a problem. Then something would be wrong, because he's supposed to go on and prepare himself for what he needs to be doing next in his life.

My oldest daughter, who is my second child, attended the same Bible school before going on to college, just like her brother did. But I have to admit I had a harder time with her being gone. I think by her being a girl, it was more difficult knowing that she was out there on her own.

You see, even though a daughter leaves the nest, she is still under her daddy's covering. I don't care how old she gets, that responsibility is still there until she gets married and passes from one covering to another.

That's why it's so important for a father to be in agreement with the relationship his daughter commits to. He has to be willing to pass his covering over to another man.

So I believe that it can be more difficult when girls leave home, because you have to be more active in their lives.

When our son left, we weren't tempted to call him every day, and it didn't bother us if he wasn't home when we did call. But it bothers us when our daughter isn't home and doesn't answer her voice mail. But that's all part of the empty-nest experience.

Copyright © Keith Butler Ministries
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