In a viral post on Mumsnet, a husband accuses his wife of having “Empty Nest Syndrome,” but his wife denies it. She says that she just wants her son to have his old room if ever he comes back, and that’s why she doesn’t want to give it to her husband’s teenage daughter.
First, what is Empty Nest Syndrome?
According to Verywell Family, 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.”
These are the five common signs of Empty Nest Syndrome:
- A Loss of Purpose in Everyday Life. Suddenly, you feel that your days are empty. Before, there wasn’t enough time to accomplish everything, from making breakfast, preparing lunchboxes, and taking the kids to school to attending parent-teacher meetings, driving to sports practices and games, and going to kids’ parties. Now, there are so many hours in your hands, and you don’t have any idea just how to meaningfully fill them.
- Frustration Over Loss of Control. Before, you used to manage your kids’ schedules and oversee their daily activities. Now, with all your children grown up and living on their own, you feel left out. You no longer have the knowledge about how life goes on without them. You feel that you’re no longer needed to help them with things and to support their dreams.
- Empty Nest Evokes a Range of Emotions, Including Distress. You may find yourself crying quietly while watching sad movies or driving alone. During this period, you feel very sensitive to what other people say or do. You can even become nervous about your marriage, scared of getting old, regretful of times when you weren’t there for your kids, and frustrated by dreams you’ve failed to accomplish for yourself.
- Stress on Marriage. With the arrival of kids, couples become focused on their families. But, after your kids leave home, you may find it difficult to communicate with your spouse again. It’s because you’ve devoted so much time to your kids that you’ve neglected your marriage. Now, you feel strange as a couple, wondering how you should spend the rest of your life together — a dream the two of you had before.
- Worries over Your Children’s Well-Being. The temptation to keep calling your kids to find out if they’re doing fine, or to keep checking their social media accounts, is strong at this stage. But it’s unwise, because your kids may feel it is an intrusion into their private lives. Also, this is your child’s opportunity to apply what they’ve learned in life and to stand on their own feet. They may occasionally fall, but you have to trust that they can find the strength to get up and try again till they succeed. It is not the duty of a parent to be there with her children every step of the way. You have to let your children spread their wings and fly.
“It’s common for parents to find letting go to be a painful experience ─ even though they actively encourage their children to be independent,” remarks Dr. Jessica Sosso, Family Medicine, Mayo Clinic Health System. “Parents might find it difficult to suddenly have no children at home who need their care. They might miss being a part of their children’s daily lives and their constant companionship. Parents with only one child or those who strongly identify with their role as a parent might have a particularly difficult time adjusting.”
Is this mom’s story a case of Empty Nest Syndrome? Could her husband be right?
This is this mom’s post under the username Met82: “Would like to get everyone’s opinion on this. So me and my husband have been together 15 years, married 5 and living together for 10. We both have a child from a previous relationship, however, until recently, we all lived under the same roof with no issues. Problem has come up. My son, who is the oldest of the two kids (25), officially moved out 3 months ago and in with his girlfriend into their first flat. He has been staying 5 days out of 7 at hers for the last 2 years anyway, but this new flat is officially theirs, and he has moved all his belongings out. My husband wants his girl, who is 17, to now move into the bigger room (what was previously my son’s room), as she currently has the small room to herself.”
OP further related that her husband didn’t consult her about it first, seeming to assume that there would be no issues. But OP said no when he finally told her about the matter. Her husband argued that the room was empty for 3 months now and it should be made useful by allowing his daughter to occupy it. He also added that, just in case her son visits or returns home, he could still have a room but the smaller one.
OP revealed her feeling about her husband’s suggestion: “Im 100% against this. My son has only just moved out 3 months ago, and although my fingers are crossed that everything works out fine for them, what if it doesn’t and he has to move back in? I don’t want him feeling that his room is no longer there.”
OP did add to her post that she has a great relationship with her stepdaughter. It’s just that she’s uncomfortable with the idea of her son losing his room in their house when she knows that he doesn’t have one in his bio dad’s home.
OP’s question: “Am I being completely unreasonable, as I don’t think I am, however, my husband seems really angry that this is even being discussed.”
This post was showered with comments, and they all agree on the same thing: OP is an Empty Nester.
Comment from kenadams86: “I agree with your DH and everyone else on this thread. Your son is a grown man and has left home. Your DSD should definitely have the bigger room. I’d be quite excited about helping her move into the room and redecorating? Maybe an opportunity to put a positive spin on the change.”
Susieblue18 wrote, “I think you’re being unreasonable, surely the child who lives there should be in the biggest room. Your son has hardly lived in the house for the past 2 years. Have you asked him what he thinks?”
AryaStarkWolf likewise commented, “Yes, I agree that it’s awful you didn’t give her the bigger room before now when your son was out of the house 5 nights a week. Shame on you.”
Duchess379 also wrote, “DS has been with her 2yrs & has practically been living in her flat up to now. He’s 25, let him go!”
Meanwhile, these are frank words from Aquamarine1029: “This isn’t about your son, it’s about you and your inability to deal with the fact that he has officially moved out. It’s pure selfishness, and I can imagine your husband is quite upset at seeing this side of you. There is not a single valid reason why your stepdaughter shouldn’t have that room.”
What do you think?