Interstates Family Focus: Advice from an Empty Nester

At Interstates, one of our core values is family. As I think about my family, I am uneasy about the upcoming changes we’ll experience. The “empty nest” is something I’ve been looking forward to for years. This fall the nest will finally be completely empty. No more tripping over the kid’s toys. No more dirty laundry snaking its way out of my daughter’s bedroom and down the hall. And no more make-up piled up in the bathroom. I finally get to regain control of my remote control. Instead of watching hours of The Bachelor, Say Yes to the Dress, and Gilmore Girls, I can finally watch hours of bass fishing, NASCAR, and Game of Thrones without a guilty conscience.

Yet, as the summer quickly passes by, I start to think of what will happen this fall. After my youngest child is off to college. I am filled with a mixture of remorse and sadness. Did I raise her right? Will she be successful in college? Will she need me and I won’t be able to help her? So many what-if’s. I’ve spent the last 20 years doing everything I can for my children. Never having missed a dance recital, a Christmas play, cheerleading practice, volleyball, soccer or swimming. Now it’s over and I’m starting a new chapter as a parent.

What I am going through is not uncommon, but it doesn’t make it any easier. Empty nest syndrome refers to feelings of sadness experienced by parents or guardians after children leave their childhood homes. These feelings are normal when a child leaves the home. A parent may miss the companionship or daily contact they had with a child, and may experience a sense of loneliness in their absence. However, the syndrome is treatable. Empty Nest Syndrome is a form of depression, and like most cases of depression, it can be treated with counseling, therapy or medication. However, I am choosing a different route. In addition to staying busy at work and leaning on supportive coworkers, I am choosing to pursue activities I enjoy with my wife. We aim to live out this new chapter of our lives to the fullest.

With the new school year upon us, many parents may be in the same boat. So to my fellow empty nesters, if you’re reading this, have faith and take heart that you are not alone. Change is always an adjustment and the kids will be home to visit from time to time. In the meantime, I’ll be settled in my favorite chair, eagerly awaiting the next episode of Game of Thrones – without a guilty conscience.


Daron Ross, Interstates Project Estimator