Empty nest syndrome and you: how to deal

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By Maithili Jalihal

Have you been spending way too many uncomfortable moments with your parents? Have they been constantly trying to make you happy? Bursting into tears at  the mention of higher education?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you are experiencing empty nest syndrome.

In the very worst cases, it can lead to limited freedom and several Friday nights with the family. Occasionally, it leads to brunch every Sunday with the whole extended family.  In the very best cases, it can lead to uncomfortable conversations with either of the parental units and multiple emotional car rides.

But whatever the severity of the case, empty nest syndrome is a problem that can be cured with your help and your parents’ unwilling cooperation.

When identifying the problem, we can see that most parents simply want to spend time with their children. Unfortunately, they choose to do so during times of great urgency when there is frantic fun to be had.

To avoid inopportune family time, plan spontaneous tender moments earlier in the day, particularly during the hours of 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. when nothing exciting is happening.

Another solution would be to do household chores with family members. Not only are you enlisting the help of others in accomplishing your designated responsibilities, but it’s also a convenient time to slip in meaningful family time. What says quality family time more than a whitewashed fence, completed with the help of mom or dad?

If you find yourself struggling with senior projects during those precious last weeks of high school, ask your parents to help out. Late night Calculus calculations are made easier when your dad is helping you with them. In fact, Calculus becomes much easier if you allow your parents to do all of your work. Time spent “doing” calculus with your parents is quality time spent well.

Then, there are those parents who want to compensate for the distance between themselves and their children using modern technology. While social networks are always a blessing in their distracting and useless nature, they can be a curse when used by the overeager parent.

To prevent awkward Facebook comments from your parents on your photos, be sure to use Facebook’s privacy settings so your parents can’t see them. It’s never good to open your home page and see a notification that your mom has liked the photo of you vandalizing an old person’s home.

Medical experts and college alumni agree that serious empty nesters continue their behavior even during the actual state of empty nest.

For these cases, extreme measures are necessary.

To get out of late night Skype chats with your mother, tell both of your parents that you are renouncing technology in order to focus on school. Insist on only corresponding with your family through long letters sent by mail. Not only will you be creating some space between you and your parent, but you will be aiding a dying postal industry.

In fact, the best way to avoid an over-enthusiastic empty nester is to renounce modern amenities completely.

Since airplanes fall in the realm of modern amenities, you will have to inform your parents that flying home is just not an option. You would also be forced to tell them that the alternate modes of travel, i.e. the horse and buggy would take too long to complete.

This way you can completely avoid the boring trips home and instead spend time with your buddies partying in some beach side hotel.

Parents love their kids. Kids love themselves. When the bonds of love become too tight, it becomes time to leave the nest.

Graduation is a time for self-reflection, burning anger, regret, and a chance for new opportunities. Don’t let empty nest syndrome come in the way of  your celebrations. Do yourself a favor, and help your parents get help.

Side-effects of treatment include estrangement, tense family reunions, and possible reductions in inheritance.