The Empty Nest Syndrome is a disorder associated with the loss process suffered by parents when their children leave the family home.

Empty Nest Syndrome

Have you ever wondered how moods originate ? The answer to this question is complex, as they are born in the middle of a flood of information coming from both the inside and the outside of the person. We are not emotionally autonomous beings, with feelings that are born spontaneously in us and turn outwards in our actions and our way of expressing affective states; in any case, n ur feelings are born in the continuous feedback with what happens around us .

With this in mind, it is not surprising to think that our emotional states are at least partly due to the type of relationship we have with others and the degree to which we have occasion to relate to certain people.

Definition: the loneliness of the silent home

The Empty Nest Syndrome is a clear example of this. This concept is used to refer to the feeling of loneliness and sadness experienced by parents and carers in general when the young people they once cared for become emancipated and stop sharing a home with them . It is common for Empty Nest Syndrome to occur when children leave home to move to the city where their school is located, when they decide to go live alone and take care of themselves, or when they get married. In all cases something similar happens: something changes in the day-to-day life of the caregivers, because certain people are no longer as present as before.

This sense of loss need not be based solely on the absence of dealing with children, but can have a negative effect on self-image if great value was placed on being responsible for caring for another person. The search for meaning can be disrupted if much of that existential effort has to do with raising and caring for others.

Differences between men and women

A simple variation such as going from sharing a house with a child to not sharing it at all can profoundly disrupt the repertoire of emotional states of parents and guardians, because emotions are related to the objective changes that occur in the context .

However, at present the context is determined, in part, by the gender assigned to each person. As a result of the gender bias women have had a traditional role linked to upbringing and the domestic sphere, they are also the most likely to experience the Empty Nest Syndrome : an objectively expressed inequality (the distribution of domestic tasks) also leads to variations in the perception of this objectivity (the departure of children from the home).

But, in addition, part of the reason women tend to experience this sense of loss more is that these episodes often coincide with menopause.

This does not mean that men cannot develop the typical symptoms of Empty Nest Syndrome, but in statistical terms it is less common for it to occur.

What is happening with Empty Nest Syndrome today?

It is quite possible that in recent years the effects of Empty Nest Syndrome are being affected by changes in lifestyle and the economic crisis . On the one hand, there is a growing number of young adults who are unable to become emancipated due to lack of income. On the other hand, the fact that birth rates are falling in many countries may reflect the fact that there are more and more families with only one child, which could mean that their emancipation would mean a more abrupt change.

In addition, the demands of a tighter labour market lead many young people to work far away from their usual place of residence, which makes family reconciliation difficult and makes meetings with parents less frequent and more spaced out in time.

It is also not so frequent that little time passes between the time when the children are emancipated and the time when they have a child, so in some cases people living with Empty Nest Syndrome do not even have the opportunity to care for their grandchildren (who, on the other hand, if they exist could be hundreds of kilometres away).

The partial loss of contact with a son or daughter may seem difficult to bear in itself, but the way in which this is experienced depends largely on material conditions such as those provided by the labour market and the economic situation of the families.