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Life After Children Leave Home May Cause Stress!

When children leave home, changes will take place. The following information may help you deal with these stressors.

Nashville, Ark. – With the approach of high school and college graduations, many parents will be experiencing the “empty nest” syndrome. Empty nest is the feelings of sadness, and/or grief that some parents experience after children leave home. It is not uncommon to experience these feelings once your child has been away from home for a month or so. On one hand, you are excited that your child is experiencing new activities and opportunities and is becoming more independent. On the other hand, you are sad because you miss them.

Researchers do assure us though, that there is life, maybe even a good life, after the children leave home. However, there are also some stressors that will keep coping skills honed to a sharp edge.

            Today’s middle-aged couples can expect to have 15 to 30+ years to live together after the children leave home. Many of these couples will face several unanticipated stressors during those later years.

            First, the kids may all leave home; but chances are good that they may return at least once to live with mom and dad. It could be the cause of a divorce or job relocation. Or, more likely, it may be they are returning from college and need help before going out on their own.

            The return of a child may cause financial as well as emotional trauma. Researchers suggest that parents and adult children cope better in this situation if the child does not fall back into a dependent role again.

            Parents are tempted to assume their old role of taking complete responsibility for the child, but this fosters dependence and resentment over time. Many parents set a time limit, such as three months, on how long a returning child can live at home again.

            Second, after the children leave home, many couples find that they need to redevelop their life together. The demands of raising children may have left little time earlier for the couple’s love relationship.

            There is an opportunity now to increase their marital satisfaction, which may be at its lowest ebb during the middle-aged years. Research indicates that many couples seize this opportunity to reconnect and build their relationship.

            Other stressors include assuming care-giving roles or experiencing the deaths of their elderly parents. These situations emphasize to the couple their own vulnerability and personal aging.

            Retirement also can be a stressful event for some couples. For example, one researcher noted that women who continued to work after their husbands retired experienced lower marital satisfaction than those who retired with or before their husbands.

            Middle-aged couples continue to experience many changes after the kids leave home. Many of these changes are very stressful. The good news is that making the effort to strengthen and enrich the couple’s relationship may make their remaining years a more joyful experience.

            So as graduation day nears and many couples begin to experience feelings of depression and loneliness, remember that this time can also be a positive experience.

            For more information on dealing with life’s stressors or parenting check out the website or visit the Howard County Extension Office located on the second floor of the courthouse.

Recipe of the Week

            Everyone enjoys a dessert once in a while, even if you are dieting. Here is a great way to have a satisfying dessert without all the guilt. Enjoy a small ½ cup serving.

Cinnamon Apple Crisp

For filling:

4 cups peeled, thinly sliced apples (3-4 medium)

¼ cup water

3 Tablespoons firmly packed brown sugar

1 tablespoons all-purpose flour

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

Non-stick cooking spray

For topping:

1 cup quick cooking oatmeal

3 Tablespoons firmly packed brown sugar

3 Tablespoons margarine, melted

¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

            Heat oven to 350°F. Spray 8-inch square glass baking dish with cooking spray. For filling, combine fruit and water in large bowl. Combine sugar, flour, and cinnamon; add to fruit; stir until fruit is evenly coated. Spoon into baking dish.

            For topping, combine all ingredients in medium bowl; mix well until oatmeal is moistened. Sprinkle evenly over fruit. Bake 30-35 minutes or until fruit is tender. Yield: 6 servings.

            Nutrition information per serving: 290 calories, total fat 9 g, protein 4 g, carbohydrate 52 g, fiber 4 g, sodium 90 mg

By Jean Ince
County Extension Agent - Staff Chair
The Cooperative Extension Service
U of A System Division of Agriculture

Media Contact: Jean Ince
County Extension Agent - Staff Chair
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
421 N. Main St, Nashville AR 71852
(870) 845-7517


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