From Dr. Jane's Notebook

No more ruffled feathers in an empty nest

            The term “empty nest” conjures up images of the once typical nuclear family in which both Mom and Dad find themselves alone after their two or three children have left home for college, career, and families of their own. However, in many families today, by the time the nest empties, Mom and Dad no longer live together. They may be alone, remarried, perhaps newlywed, widowed, raising step-children, raising grandchildren or their nest may be re-inhabited with grown-up children from time to time. Alternatively, many family nests never had children of their own, and some nests were previously filled with aging parents for whom you cared in their later years. To keep up with the many changes in family life during recent decades, I think it’s time to discuss life in different kinds of empty nests. Here are a few more thoughts on the matter.

            As we learned in the game of musical chairs, it is important to consider your strategy for support in the future. The one thing we can predict is that the census of our family nest will change over time. With this in mind, a little family planning is necessary in order to avoid being left completely alone. Those who are a little short on relatives must work hard to develop a family network among their friends. In addition to your longtime friends, continue to expand your circle of close relationships by making new friends whenever possible. Especially, strive to make friends with people younger than yourself. They are more likely to keep your thoughts fresh and your life active, and they are more likely to outlive you!

            Like the actual nest of a bird, we can build a strong foundation of support that will last for many years if we are willing to make regular repairs and “re-feather” our nest from time to time. However, if we fail to upgrade our nests, they will deteriorate over time and leave us feeling “emotionally homeless.” In all cases, with a little planning, you can insure that your empty nest will not become an empty life.

©Copyright, 2005, Jane R. Rosen-Grandon. All rights reserved.

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