Four Things to Know Before The Empty Nest
By Dean Honeycutt
I want to write a word of encouragement to all the parents who are becoming empty nesters. “Empty nest” is that part of life where your grown children are one by one, moving out of the home. Bedrooms are empty, no toys scattered on the floor, no late-night conversations, or those times when you have gone to bed and your child comes in late opens your bedroom door to tell you they are home. Dad and mom can now rest knowing all the family is safe in the nest.
But as time goes by the nest becomes empty. Children grow up so fast and before you know it, they are moving out of the home to go to college, start a job in a new location, or get married. Pam and I have always had children around. Of course, we did not train our children to remain at home, but as they move out and the house becomes a little quieter it is sad.
Every night without fail I have opened bedroom doors and told my children “Goodnight, I love you; and I hope you sleep good.” Even when they are asleep, I will whisper these words. So, Pam and I miss moments like this and when they move out it is difficult, to say the least.
It seems like Pam has managed this a little better than I. It may be that I have some regrets that I did not spend enough time with my children. The Lord allowed Pam to stay at home with our children, which proved to be a tremendous blessing to our family. So, looking back maybe I could have spent a little more time playing with dolls, riding bikes, or fishing together.
James Dobson, author and popular family counselor, discussed “a recent study asked four hundred parents of college freshmen to report their feelings when their son or daughter left home. Surprisingly to some, the fathers took it harder than the mothers. And one of the chief explanations was regret. Fathers had been so busy—working so hard—that they suddenly realized it was too late to build a relationship with the then-grown child.” (Fathers and the Empty Nest; James Dobson; July 15, 2016).
I would like to offer a few suggestions that I am trying to work through myself. First, if your children are at home, spend time with them. That work will be there tomorrow, and the lawn that needs mowing can wait. Go out and throw that baseball, sit down, and read that book, take that teenage girl shopping and out to eat. Show her how a young man should treat her. Value the trivial things saying goodnight, I love you, dinner conversations, and prayers together.
Second, provide opportunities for family gatherings. My wife does an excellent job with this. She will prepare a meal and invite everyone over to eat. When we all get together, we relive great memories and childhood adventures. Siblings laugh about who did what and “remember that time when we” and then proceed to tell a story that brings back wonderful memories. We like to take small vacations together. The larger the family gets the more difficult it becomes, but with careful planning and communication, we can usually make it happen.
Third, do not forget the “baby” of the family. If the youngest child is still at home, remember things are hard for them as well. The youngest sibling was used to brother and sis being around and things are different for them as well. That youngest child needs your encouragement and affirmation. They will want to grow up fast because siblings are out of the home and living independently, but that youngest child needs your special attention.
Fourth you and your spouse had spent much of your time with your children. Now that they are “out of the nest” what do you do? You need to continue to build that relationship with your spouse. You now have time to make plans and do things together as a couple. Create hobbies that you can do together. Pam and I like to go on jeep rides. And now that we are becoming “empty nesters” we can make plans to travel together and go places we have always wanted to visit. The bottom line is the two that are in the nest need one another and they need to foster that relationship that honors God and is a blessing to their grown children.
Our nest is not empty, other nests are being built which have become part of the family. Grandchildren are “grand,” and Pam and I get to help with that new nest. Son in-laws and daughters-in-law are wonderful and are becoming wonderful additions to our family. So, at the end of the day, Pam and I can smile and say, “God has been good to our family.”
Many blessings to you and Happy New Year,
Pastor Dean Honeycutt
Pastor Dean Honeycutt shepherds Snow Hill Baptist Church in Bakersville, NC. He may be reached at 828-385-0213, firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit their website at www.snowhillbaptist.com.
You can read more good Christian news from Dean HERE.