Empty Nest

empty nestWell, my youngest is now settled into life as a Harding freshman, my oldest (of 4) just finished a week-long visit, and my wife and I are now officially empty nesters. I have one at Harding, one at Auburn, one in the Miami graduate law school for taxation, and one who is actually working for living and entirely on his own. It’s a very strange (and quiet) feeling.

What does it mean for the blog? Well, I doubt that it means more posts per day. I tried that a while back. Not a good idea. In fact, I’m glad GraceConversation is over so I only have to write for one blog. It was fun, but all the fun I could stand.

It could mean that I have less time to post. I mean, you should see my wife’s honey-do list! The kids had kept her pretty distracted, but that’s pretty much over I think.

For years, my church has offered the occasional class for empty nesters. I was always in the parenting class. Or teaching in the teen program (I think I’ve had a kid in the teen program for each of the last 13 years. What else do people do in church?) So I thought I’d see what the great Google Oracle of all Human Knowledge would advise.

Either way, there are many ways to lessen the feelings of loss when the nest is emptied.

  • Establish date nights with your spouse or spend more time with friends. [Check. Just came back from an Olive Garden date.]
  • Host an exchange student. It can be very gratifying to know you are helping a young person into a new experience. [Not ready for that one. Still enjoying the quiet, you know.]
  • Become involved in your church youth group or a volunteer position in your community. Youth are wonderful beings, full of life, energy, and most are willing to share it with adults who take an interest in them. [Not sure I want another round with the teens. Maybe we could adopt a college student or two?]
  • This is a great time to get more involved in your church. Many churches have groups of empty nesters just like you who get together for outings, sharing commonalities, and hobby groups. [Really couldn’t be more involved: elder, Bible class teacher and teacher of teachers, legal advisor. It’s enough. Not ready to go with the retiree group to a meat-and-three 150 miles away just because.]
  • Travel or renew hobbies. [Maybe we’ll take in a lectureship or two. Or start another blog … ]

Hmmm. Not that much help. Maybe I’ll put a hot tub in one of the kid’s rooms! and turn another one into a gym! Ahh … that’ll work!

[I can’t wait until they read this. 🙂 ]

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12 Responses

  1. Adopt the college kids and young singles is a great idea, especially the ones who are open and teachable. Home cooked food is always a big win. 🙂

    (And maybe the Spirit will guide you to some young ladies who would make good future daughters-in-law. 😉 )

  2. I have one daughter in law presently. I could go for some more. But the boys are very resistant to parental match making. We’ll have be very, very secretive …

  3. I think you two should get an RV and take it on the road. Imagine all the sites you could take in, you could get one of those old man visors (not that I’m calling you old…just the visor) and wear argile? socks up to your knees with shorts…oh imagine the possibilities sir!!

  4. Try the most difficult ministry of all – keeping 20-somethings in a church body. Churches in general and Churches of Christ in particular have failed miserably at this one.

  5. I was able to ramp down gradually from the full nest to the empty one. My kids went to college 45 minutes from home, and my wife and I sort of adopted their campus ministry as our own for a few years.

    Now that we have grandchildren, the hard part is that one of them is 12 hours away. That takes “empty nest” to a new level.

  6. By the time the wifey gets the nest fixed up as she likes it she’ll be ready to move again anyway, so really, the next 7 or 8 years of your life are spoken for anyhow! I say, enjoy the quiet (and the neatness), do some traveling (Miami is great vacation destination you know), and attend every AL football game there is (Roll Tide!!).

  7. How did you end up with one at Auburn? We have a daughter-in-law who is an Auburn graduate but we try to not hold it against her.

  8. He’s a junior. I’m just now getting to where I can say the words.

  9. I enjoyed the article.
    Does anyone have ideas on a ministry for this age group, or on how to start one? We’re talking about it. Our congregation has about 125-150 in attendance. I’m doing some research on how to do this.
    I have married kids and 5 grandkids (ages 1 to 9) within 30-60 minute drive, but they attend other congregations so I know the “empty pew” feeling of not having family attend my church with me and this is extra hard on my husband. Most events are for teens or kids and their parents. Since I am active in children’s ministries that keeps me busy, but what about those who don’t have a connection?
    How do we meet those spiritual and social needs and motive people who are Empty Nesters to serve in some capacity?

  10. Norma,

    Speaking for just myself as new empty nester, the last thing I want is a program for me. I’m old enough that I should be serving others. (I don’t think we disagree.) What the churches need to do is learn to think outside the building. There are plenty of service opportunities in a world filled with hurting, suffering people.

    The leaders of the church are charged with equipping the saints to do works of service (Eph 4), but we often mistake “works of service” as works for one another. Certainly we should serve one another, but we’ve not fully honored the scriptures until we reach out — as a community of believers — and serve the world around us.

    I’m planning a series in a few weeks giving some examples for how to do just that. Stayed tuned.

  11. I found this site looking for some great ideas my husband and I became empty nesters just in September and I want to celebrate with a party have an empty nest party but am struggling with finding and coming up with some fun ideas for it. Do any of you enjoy celebrating, We want to celebrate the new journey we are on and need ideas for a party. Can you help with some ideas??? thanks for the help.

  12. Pattie,

    I’m sorry. I’m terrible at party planning. Maybe someone else here has that gift, but I’m hopeless.

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