Navigating the Empty Nest

Navigating the Empty Nest - Parenting Like HannahWhen your kids are little, the idea of an empty nest can seem a million years away. Trust me, though. As the parent of a “child” entering her senior year in college, the years actually flew by. As with most things in life, you can’t totally prepare for huge changes like an empty nest. Knowing what is coming and making some tentative plans though, will make it much easier to navigate.

So, I was interested to review a new book called the Guide to the Empty Nest:Discovering New Purpose, Passion, and Your Next Great Adventure, by Barbara Rainey and Susan Yates. The book itself is divided into three major parts: “We’re in This Together”, “Let’s Get Honest” and “Let’s Move Forward”. In total, ten topics are covered within the chapters of this book. It really is a good thorough guide to the topics facing a mother of a newly empty nest.

First, the good news. They really do hit the major topics you will probably face and even take the time to address moms who are facing a somewhat different empty nest because of children with special needs or other different circumstances. The authors have managed to take away the awkwardness of having two authors work together – each sharing their individual stories. (Kudos, because no one else seems to have mastered the awkwardness!)

The stories are relatable and the advice practical. Granted, not every parent will experience what the authors or the people they know experienced, but even if you can’t personally relate, you probably will have friends in those situations. I love, that although this isn’t really what I would call a Bible study, it does include some scripture and is written from a Christian perspective. (There are also study questions in the back should you want to have a book club.)

Which brings me to my disappointment. The authors fall back on the relatively recent invention of the “Believer’s Prayer” as their suggestion for becoming a Christian rather than the biblical command for repentance, confession and baptism. It’s especially unfortunate, because it is a good section of the main book rather than buried in an appendix where it might be missed.

The advice is mainly solid advice – at least for the parts of an empty nest I have navigated or seen my friends navigate thus far. One issue I think would have been helpful though, would have been to add a bit about the differences between launching sons and daughters. To a person, my friends and acquaintances who had sons had very different dropping off at college experiences from those of us who had daughters. The ongoing relationship is also very different – not better or worse – just different.

I have to say I wish every mom would spend time now beginning to think about their “next act”. Bearing in mind that even adult children require quite a bit of your time and attention if you have a strong, healthy relationship (sometimes more time if there are major issues), there still is more time available to fill in a variety of ways. To me, it helped to have a ministry on which to focus those nurturing instincts that weren’t need quite as often as when my daughter lived at home.  I would love for all empty nest moms to focus on ministry and not the “now it’s time for me to be selfish” theory promoted by society. There’s still plenty of time to have fun and relax – the focus and priorities are just very different.

Over all, this is a great tutorial for moms entering the years of the “empty nest syndrome”. It’s worth reading and considering before you are in the emotional parts of the actual transition.




A copy of this book was given to me for free in exchange for my honest review. An affiliate link is included for your convenience.

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Thereasa Winnett

Thereasa Winnett is the founder of Teach One Reach One and blogger at Parenting Like Hannah. She holds a BA in education from the College of William and Mary. She has served in all areas of ministry to children and teens for more than thirty years and regularly leads workshops for ministries and churches. She has conducted numerous workshops, including sessions at Points of Light’s National Conference on Volunteering and Service, the National Urban Ministry Conference, Pepperdine Bible Lectures, and Lipscomb’s Summer Celebration. Thereasa lives in Atlanta, GA with her husband Greg, where she enjoys reading, knitting, traveling and cooking.

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