The Empty Nest Syndrome.

“Kids aren’t ruining parents’ lives,” Dr. Gorchoff said. “It’s just that they’re making it more difficult to have enjoyable interactions together.”

I came across this fascinating article which caught my eye because we went through the empty nest syndrome on three separate occasions and came out of them fairly intact. We were told on all three occasions that we were particularly impacted because we have only one child.

Let me explain.

Firstly, in India, children living with parents and grand parents is still quite prevalent and family ties are very strong. This is changing rapidly, but for our generation, this is still so.

When our son Ranjan was growing up, I was in an employment where, every few years, I was getting transferred on promotions to newer locations. This was impacting Ranjan’s studies quite a bit and when in 1983, when he was just twelve years old, we decided to send him to a boarding school, it was a very difficult decision to make but take it we had to. The timings of the transfers did not particularly accommodate school term timings and this was the primary reason for our decision.

Off he went to boarding school, and for the next three years, my wife Urmeela and I were left to manage on our own. During those days, I was also traveling quite a bit and Urmeela had to be alone at home for about three weeks on average per month.

In 1987, luckily, we were transferred to a city when academic timings coincided, and Ranjan joined us for the next eight years. He completed his college education and post graduation while staying at home. Subsequently, he also got employment where we lived. It was a boon for Urmeela as I was still traveling to the same extent.

In 1995, when I retired for the first time, Ranjan got a job offer in another city that was just too good and he left home again. Since I was at home, it was not too bad for Urmeela and we had a quiet retired life for a few months. I was pulled out of retirement by a local industrial house with an offer that I could not refuse and so for the next thirty months, it was back to corporate life. I completed that assignment and went back into retirement. In the meanwhile, Ranjan returned to our hometown after just over an year’s working as his employer had to shut down due to some family problems of the promoter of the company. Since then, he has been living in our home town, with a few long stretches of overseas postings.

Ranjan got married in 2001 and he and his lovely bride made their home with us. Till 2005, they lived with us when they decided to separate and both took separate residences. Ranjan moved out again and was living as a bachelor for about a year and a half till he decided that the infrastructure in his parents’ home was better than what he had experienced all alone by himself. He is now back with us.

We have thus experienced the empty nest syndrome on three separate occasions and Urmeela has experienced the worst of it because, she was left alone for long stretches of time when neither Ranjan nor I was at home.

The article revived memories of those days, and I can vouch for one thing that the article does not pay sufficient attention to. Whenever the nest was empty, Urmeela and I found it possible to relate to each other in a completely different way than when Ranjan was with us or when he and Leena, his wife were with us. That relating has brought us very close to each other and I sincerely doubt that such closeness would have been possible without the empty nest situations that we experienced.

The article is more relevant to Western readers, but parts of it are relevant to us too. I know that many of my readers are parents with children away from home and it is for this reason that I have thought it prudent to post this article.

How does the article impress you?