Helping parents with the empty nest...

<p>Okay, so I'm a current medical school student (going into my second year...graduated HS in 2001), and tommorow my little brother is moving into my old fraternity house. I'm excited to have him follow me to my alma mater and to what made my undergrad years so amazing (the fraternity). It really made me proud that he earned a bid and will be able to share the experience with me. I'm beaming on the inside.</p>

<p>However, my biggest concern at the moment is not my brother but my there anything I can do to help them with this change in their lives? They live in suburban KC, and I live in Omaha, my little brother in Lincoln NE (so it's not like we can come home every weekend). Not to get to deep into details, but their marriage has been a little rocky since I left for college. Do any empty nesters have any suggestions for things they liked when their kids were away? We've never been a family big on phone calls, and I'm super busy during the school year (med school sucks), but what things can I do to help them?</p>

<p>I mean, I feel like I've been what every parent hopes their child to be to some extent (what parent wouldn't want their child to be a doctor...not that they've ever forced me to follow this path), but looking at the future and how my parents get along, I feel like I have to give some effort to help them deal with the changes or otherwise everything will fall apart.</p>

<p>How wonderful that your little brother will share some of your experiences - sounds like you two have a close bond.</p>

<p>As far as your parents go, please realize that you (and your brother) are not responsible for your parents' relationship to each other. As their son, you have the responsibility to honor your parents - show them respect and be concerned for their overall safety and well-being. Staying in contact and keeping them part of your life, sharing your experiences and allowing them to mentor you as you desire will be a blessing to them. Your living a life of integrity and accomplishment sends a message to them that they've "done right" in their parenting role.</p>

<p>Whether you're a medical student, a businessman, or whatever, your life will always be full of too many things to do. If you can shoot a quick e-mail (it doesn't have to be a major missive) their way, they would appreciate it. I do know that parents think a lot more about their kids than kids do their parents. It's just a fact of life.</p>

<p>My husband and I are about to become empty-nesters. From what I've observed from others who have already walked down this path, it seems that this new chapter in a marriage can be the cause of stress and strain (there's no more childrearing "glue" to sustain the relationship) or else be the cause of renewal and growth (more time for each other and pursuing new interests).</p>

<p>It is a little daunting to adjust to a "new kind of normal" in life, and I've always appreciated encouraging words from others. Just as your parents have cheered you on, so you can cheer them on with positive comments and confidence in their abilities to adapt. The rest is up to them.</p>

<p>You should be very proud of your accomplishments. I am sure your parents are. My son, who is my only child, left for college two weeks ago. This is needless to say a very difficult time for me. It will be difficult for your parents also, but what I try to remember and hopefully they will too, is this is what I spent the last 18 years working toward. Launching my child into the world with the life skills to make him sucessful.</p>

<p>Regarding your parents relationship, this is probably not something you should worry about. Hopefully, they will now have the time to get to know each other again. Go out on dates. Travel at will. Take a class together. This could be a very good time for them. </p>

<p>Regardless of what happens, you should always remember that your parents love you and nothing will ever change that. Good luck to you. Sounds like you are on the road to a great career in medicine. That is admirable as not everyone can do that.</p>

<p>I totally agree that your parent's relationship is not your responsibility. This is their milestone to deal with. However, as a current empty nester who is still trying to adjust, some things that you and your brother can do will make it easier:
1. Stay in touch in what ever way is reasonable, eg. a weekly phone call, occasional e-mails, etc. Share your ups and downs with them if you can.
2. Show appreciation for your parents' thoughtfulness when they do things for you.
3. Remember birthdays, mother's/father's day, etc.... even when you're too busy to deal with a gift, a card will communicate that you're thinking of them.</p>

<p>It certainly seems like you already are a very thoughtful son. Sounds like your parents are lucky.</p>