Aleteia

What does the Bible have to say about “empty nest syndrome”?

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Witnessing your children leave home isn’t easy, but take heart in the inspired word of God.

To help us confront the “empty nest syndrome” we can call on numerous saints — first on St. Joseph and the Virgin Mary. We can find encouragement in the episode when Jesus got lost and was found at the Temple. When he was confronted with the consternation of his parents, He said, “Didn’t you know, I had to be in my Father’s house?” (Lk 2:49). By this, Jesus affirms his own individuality as such, in the mystery of his independence and his mission. Joseph and Mary teach us here that there is always a mystery to our children – the mystery of an individual and his or her vocation in the world.

The departure of children is the start of a new relationship

In the footsteps of Mary and Joseph, parents are invited to take a step back from the individuals their children have become. They should trust that they’ve done everything possible for their children to make choices by themselves for themselves and for others. Physical separation does not mean the end of a loving relationship between parents and their children.

In the Bible, God always creates something new through separation, to later have individuals reunite for the purpose of a higher principle. In the book of Genesis, He separated the man and the woman to later reunite them in the covenant of love.

The departure of children is not their disappearance – it is something that leads to another kind of beautiful relationship. Children and parents relate to each other differently, in a more profound way. Children abandon a relationship based on dependence and submission to enter into a relationship based on higher principles of love and friendship.

Étienne Ducornet

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