Empty Nest: From Three to One to None
Unlike the birds in the photo of a not-so-empty nest, my kids were not asking for a worm. They wanted money, food, and wifi. Perhaps I shouldn’t characterize them in such a shallow way. I was blessed to have three kids who really did shine in their own unique ways. They were all loyal to the family and stood by their faith. By no means am I saying that they are perfect, but I am proud of each of them.
As the first child rounded out his senior year of high school, it was interesting how God had prepared both my wife and me . . . as well as our oldest. I try to tell parents of younger kids that God will have them ready when the time comes, but it is something that they just have to experience.
With one child leaving the nest, the other two “birds” became larger and required more. It wasn’t like a gap or hole was made by his leaving. Our time just naturally gravitated to the remaining kids. Another element of this that makes it easier to deal with is our current technology and the availability to stay in contact with kids when they move on.
When our second child left home this past August, it created more of a space or hole in the house. However, since we had encountered it before, it was still a manageable situation. God made us ready for the next chapter. I wish that I could clarify it more, but it appears to be a part of God’s design.
My third and last child is now a senior. The biggest difference in the collegiate preparations for me is that our last child is a girl. We have raised her to be tough and independent, but in my mind she is still the little baby that I held in my held in my arms as she slept.
Empty Nest: Seven Step Game Plan
Every child is different, but in my mind, it is a constant juggling act between stepping in and backing off; speaking and listening. As in a game, we can only contribute, but not control, the final score or outcome of the contest. This is so true to the game of parenting. For me it has been all about a game plan. Here is that plan my wife and I implemented to prepare our kids and ourselves for the empty nest and handing our kids off to the next chapter in their lives. We shared with them the following:
- It is impossible to please everyone, so don’t try. Focus on pleasing God.
- We (the parents) are not your friends. When you make enough money to sustain yourself, we can start being friends.
- We will not rescue you in your mistakes, thus enabling you to repeat them.
- We will listen to you, pray for you, advise you when solicited to do so.
- You are an adult. You will make mistakes. Get up and keep fighting. That’s what winners do.
- Don’t offer excuses. Nobody is interested in them.
- The quality of people that you associate yourself with is the measure of by which you will be judged.
One day and prayer at a time. There is no secret formula. Love your kids, but empower them for success.
–-By David Hethcock, Admissions Officer and Tech Support Specialist