About This Book


This book provides support during a very emotional but exciting time for parents — sending their children off to college, new homes, or careers. It's a must-read for empty nesters or soon-to-be empty nesters grappling with their own bittersweet new freedom. These heartfelt stories about gazing at surprisingly clean bedrooms, starting new careers, rediscovering spouses, and handling the continuing, and often humorous, needs of children, even while they are away at college or ensconced in their own apartments, will inspire, support, and amuse parents. They'll nod their heads, cry a little, and laugh a lot, as they recognize themselves and their almost grown-up children in these stories.

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Five Tips for Empty Nesters with Newfound Freedom

Inspired by Chicken Soup for the Soul: Empty Nesters by Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, Carol McAdoo Rehme and Patricia Cena Evans

All children leave the house eventually. Although it can be emotional, a study in the Journal of Family Issues says the so-called "empty-nest syndrome" does not, in fact, match the stereotypical picture of a lonely and bored parent. On the contrary, the time after children leave home is an opportunity for parents to explore new activities, hobbies and places. Chicken Soup for the Soul: Empty Nesters is a collection of 101 stories from parents about "surviving and thriving" after their last child leaves. Check out these five tips from the book on how to make the most of your empty nest.

1. Remember that your children aren’t really gone. Carol McAdoo Rehme’s daughter, Katrina, constantly made their family late, especially on Sunday mornings to church. Her family joked that when Katrina went to college they finally would get to places on time. One Sunday morning, two weeks into her college experience, Katrina called Carol in tears over her struggles in adjusting to dorm life. Carol consoled her daughter, but the rest of the family wasn’t so empathetic. "‘I can’t believe it,’ her dad shook his head woefully and heaved a huge sigh," Carol writes. "‘She’s a thousand miles from home,’ he pointed to the kitchen clock, ‘and still making us late to church!’"

2. Have a sense of humor. Bonnie Compton Hanson found some humor after her children had left home. In her poem, "Ode to the (Almost) Empty Nest," she shares that even though it seems like her children are gone, leaving lots of space behind in an empty house, it’s really a "mirage, it’s just camouflage. They left — but they’ve left it all in the garage!"

3. Celebrate your independence. Patricia Cena Evans, a nurse practitioner/midwife, had dealt with many patients who were sad after their children left home. But Patricia was looking forward to knowing her children as adults. However, one day during a trip to the mall by herself, loneliness hit her and she finally understood what the other parents had felt. "And — like I’d advised so many of my patients — I knew I needed to take a lesson from my fledglings and rejoice in my own newfound freedom," Patricia writes. "It was time for me to welcome this next season of life and move on." And that’s just what Patricia did: by going on a celebratory shopping spree.

4. Do something you’ve always dreamed about. Kathe Campbell and her husband barely knew how to act around each other when their children left the nest. They had always dreamed about having a log home in the mountains, so they bought land and sold their old house with absolutely no regrets. Getting rid of their empty nest actually brought the whole family closer together. "What was supposed to be a log cabin turned into a family lodge for any-and-all who cared to stay and saddle a bronc," Kathe says. "We forged a homestead in God’s wilderness that has kept our children returning and loving every minute of their parents’ grit."

5. Share memories. Leslie Yeaton Koepke had a treasury of keepsakes that she collected as her son grew up – from his maternity ward wristband to his mortarboard and tassel. She kept them through his twenties, as a way to comfort herself when he left and they grew apart. For her son’s 30th birthday, she decided it was time to pass the memories on to him. She gathered them in a trunk and wrote a letter about her experience raising him as a teenage mom. The gift brought them back together. "My adult first-born bawled like a baby when he peeked inside. And there it was — his wide smile, the one missing for so many years," Leslie writes. "Relationships are preserved in the keeping and in the giving away. It turns out, three decades of birthdays was exactly the right amount of time to hold on to silly things."

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