‘Tis the season for graduations and weddings. Even if you don’t have a graduate or a child getting married, I’m sure you know others close to you who do. My daughter-in-law and my nephew both graduated from college in May, and I have friends whose children are 2019 graduates from college or high school. Some are celebrating the marriage of their children who were babies just yesterday. These transitions are all necessary and normal, but sometimes dealing with the empty nest can be difficult.
When our children are young, it can seem time is dragging by, but as a woman with grown children, I can promise you young parents, before you know it your children will be grown and on their own. Don’t wish time away. Watch and listen to this song, “Slow Down,” by Nicole Nordeman, then finish reading.
I don’t know if this video affected you the way it did me, but it brought tears to my eyes and a lump in my throat as I thought about my own children and grandchildren.
As a stay-at-home mom, I poured my life into my kids as they grew up. I invested in their education and their spiritual, mental, physical, and emotional well-being. When we dropped each of them off at Liberty University, a part of me went with them, a part of my identity. And when they wed, the feelings intensified. Who am I if I’m not raising and caring for my kids? Do I still have a purpose?
Aside from the personal loss of identity, we may struggle with fears that our children won’t succeed, or that they will walk away from God and adopt the ways of the world. As a Christian parent, I spent hours and hours praying for my children to love and serve God. If that is your desire, I’m certain you’ve prayed as much as me, and no doubt have quoted Proverbs 22:6 multiple times.
Maybe on occasion you’ve reminded God that you raised your children in the way they should go but they aren’t living it. We can become disillusioned with God, and our faith wavers when we don’t see Him answering our prayers, or coming through with the promises we believe He’s given us in His word.
The book of Proverbs is full of wisdom and great advice for our lives. We should follow the foundations laid out in this book to live a more fulfilling, godly, and prosperous life. But the truth is, the Proverbs are not promises; they are principles. Proverbs 22:6 is not a guarantee that as long as we raise our children the right way they will choose God. But I’d say raising them according to God’s word provides a better chance they’ll go down the right path.
Have you clung to this scripture as a promise and doubted God or determined He’s not trustworthy? Or maybe you’ve decided you were a terrible parent and didn’t achieve leading your child as God wanted you to.
The same disillusionment can take over when we claim any promise in the Bible for ourselves meant for a specific group of people, or person, or for an individual calling or moment in history. Reading the Bible in context and knowing what applies to us specifically and what doesn’t is crucial to understanding God. This helps prevent becoming angry at God for not doing what we think He’s said He will do.
So, what can you do if you’re grappling with an empty nest? Here are a few suggestions:
If you’re married, spend the extra time and energy investing in your spouse
Devote more effort to grow your relationship with God
Serve in a new ministry at your church
Volunteer in the community
Mentor other parents who are still raising their children
Open your home to others and practice hospitality
Read good books
Start a hobby
Are you battling with an empty nest to the point of depression? If so, seek professional help. There’s no shame in needing to talk through your pain with someone qualified to aid you in working through it.
And remember, our children belong to God. They are only on loan to us for a short while. God’s plan is that we nurture, train, teach, and love them into adulthood and then give them our blessing as they fly the coop. We must let go and entrust them into the capable hands of our God.
Join the conversation. Have your children flown the coop? If so, how did you handle the empty nest? Share your advice to encourage those struggling to let go. If your children are still at home, what will you do to make sure you cherish each moment you have with your child?