Empty-Nest Syndrome Real or Myth?

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It is universally known that college can be a very stressful time for most students. However, many mothers are also stressed about their children leaving for college. The mother's stress is called empty-nest syndrome. The following video from cnam2000 , "The Empty Nest [from MOMS]" , gives examples of mothers' responses to their children leaving for college:

According to the Merriam-Webster's Medical Dictionary, empty-nest syndrome is defined as "the emotional letdown often experienced by a parent whose children have grown up and moved away from home." This idea is common in popular psychology. It is even commonly depicted in cartoons, like the one below:


In contrast to popular opinion, however, empty-nest syndrome is not very common at all. According to the Lilienfeld text, women who are working are significantly less vulnerable to empty-nest syndrome (398). Additionally, women who do not define themselves as the exclusive parent for their children are also less susceptible to the syndrome (398). In fact, most women feel an increase in happiness after their children leave home, due to new flexibility and freedom. It would seem that the alternate hypothesis principle of critical thinking was not used in the conclusion that empty-nest syndrome is popular.

In a US News article titled "Is Empty-Nest Syndrome Nothing but an Empty Myth?", there may be another explanation for empty-nest syndrome. According to the article, parents find that they must question who they are as men and women without the influence of their child. The article also found, as Lilienfeld did, that many parents were actually happier after their child had left the nest than before.

Thus, in accordance with the conclusions of Lilienfeld and the US News article, empty-nest syndrome is mostly myth. Some parents may experience emotional distress when their children leave for college, but it is very rare for it to cause actual depression. Actually, most often, parents tend to be happier. So, college students, like me, do not need to worry about our poor depressed parents missing us back at home - they're only missing us a healthy amount.

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This page contains a single entry by bens0432 published on November 6, 2011 11:07 PM.

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