Education and Counseling for Individuals Affected by Oppositional Defiant Disorder and ADHD

Search This Site

Empty Nest Syndrome?

Hi Mark,

Recently I purchased your Ebook, and I can't help but think we're too late to do anything about our son.

We live in Australia and our son turns 18 in 3 weeks time, this is the legal age in Australia for accessing Alcohol etc.

He has left school and was going to Tafe studying computers (but dropped out). He has an older brother in the ARMY living in DARWIN, thousands of kilometers away. My marriage is very stable so he has/d 2 parents living with him. We always wanted to know where he was and what time he would be home, this always seemed too restricting to him.

In a nutshell, our Son has now left home (quit his job) to live with friends. The motivation behind this is to collect unemployment benefits from the government. (he can't do it under our roof because it's means tested, yes thats right the government splits up families this way!) Approximately a month ago he had a job delivering pizza's which used to fund his loan repayment to me ($1000 for his car) and petrol for his car to get to his job etc.

Then he started hanging around with some old school mates (buddies) and I can't help but think they brain washed him into quitting his job because he will be better of on benefits. Also most of these mates have lost their license for driving offences, and he taxis them around everywhere now. During one of these episodes my son got busted for curfew and no P Plate display so he too will lose his license soon.

We raised him to be a kind considerate responsible person, but most of this has gone out the window since meeting up with these old school mates. (Still kind and considerate(to his mates) but responsible has gone)

Currently he still isn't on benefits, because you have to say your parents are abusing you, to get benefits under the age of 18, and I don't think he can bring himself to tell this lie, as we've always loved and supported him.

We feel so helpless, we spent 17 years bringing him up to be independent and seek employment etc. and in the first 2 week hanging around with these friends they convinced him to ditch everything. (we can't help but thinking they are preying on his kind nature, because he's always running them somewhere in his car. When we suggest they may be using him, he says they pay him petrol money, and won't listen any further.)

He still comes home for the odd meal (we usually coax him, because we miss him and want to see how hes doing, but he has not slept here for a month.

At the beginning of all this he also split up with his girlfriend. I don't think he's emotionally mature enough for any of this stuff thats going on, everytime we try to speak to him about any of it he more or less blocks his ears, and storms off.

We are toughing it out not giving him any money, (hoping he will come home to survive), so he comes home and gets stuff to sell. It's only stuff he's has bought himself from his job and he sells it to get petrol and maka's money. He loves his driving and freedom.

We don't think he's doing drugs, however he has recently taken up smoking and drinking alcohol.

Our main concern is in 3 weeks he will be eligible for unemployment benefits living at another address(without having to lie about abuse). We are concerned that once he starts he will get stuck in a rut, and not be able to get out of it, like so many young ones do these days. Another concern is he may have the opportunity to apply for an apprenticeship this week, but we now have zero control over his wearabouts etc. and are afraid his so called mates may talk him out of it, so he can get benefits for nothing in 3 weeks.

He is a bright kid with lots of potential, in a way he seems to have given up on himself. He always struggled with school as he never was interested, however he can build a computer from parts and install all the necessary software etc. no problems.

We had him tested for adhd years ago it was negative, however reading your Ebook, I can answer yes to just about all questions, appart from violence. However it also seems to describe most teenagers to some degree. He's has had several jobs already and is a really likeable guy, he gets bored easily with the jobs however. We always made him do jobs for pocket money etc, as I was bought up fairly strictly I guess.

What do we do? We know where he's staying. Should we continue to tough it out, or go around and drag him out kicking and screaming, actually that would be hard he's 6 foot 2 and bigger than me :-) What other strategies are there to try to get him on the right path again. I get the feeling he thinks he was causing us some money problems, and this is helping us. (I don't know how he can't afford the car payments any more) I could sell the car as it's in my name and still half the money owing to me, but this will just enable his unemployment situation with a lack of transport. In fact he has suggested to sell the car, it wouldn't worry him. His attitude is "I'm living the life that I want to."

Sorry for the size of this Email, but in a way it only scrapes the surface.

Best Regards .... G.


Hi G.,

It sounds like you may be experiencing Empty Nest Syndrome, which refers to feelings of depression, sadness, and/or grief experienced by moms & dads after teens come of age and leave their childhood homes. Women are more likely than men to be affected; often, when the nest is emptying, mothers are going through other significant life events as well, such as menopause or caring for elderly parents. Yet this doesn't mean that men are completely immune to Empty Nest Syndrome. Men can experience similar feelings of loss regarding the departure of their teens.

  1. Full-time parents.
  2. Those who struggle with menopause, retirement, and aging parents.
  3. Those who feel their child is not ready to leave home.
  4. Those who have difficulty with separation and change.
  5. Those who feel their child will be in “harm’s way” while out in the “real world.”

There are practical steps you can take to help you feel better:

• Buy some pay-as-you-go mobile phone vouchers or prepaid calling cards for your son so that keeping in contact is financially viable.

• Explore alternatives, such as spending some time with a relative or taking part in a supervised summer work project. Discuss other options, such as spending several weekends away instead of the same number of days in a row.

• Help you’re your plan his time away from home. This gives him the message that you have faith in his maturity—something most adolescents are desperate to hear. It also helps you ensure that his plans are reasonable and safe.

• Make care packages for your son with anything from groceries to a set of towels for his apartment (or wherever he resides). Try not to overdo it in the beginning, and don't attach any strings to the gifts.

• Renew close relationships, such as those with spouses, partners, other family members, and friends.

• Send your son brief e-mails of what's happening at home.

• Stay in close touch with the people your son will stay with. Explain any special concerns you may have. If the stay is for more than a few days, agree on ways to communicate regularly with your son.

• Time and energy that you directed toward your son can now be spent on different areas of your life. This might be an opportune time to explore or return to hobbies, leisure activities, or career pursuits. Realize that a loss can actually be a gain.

• Try to schedule a weekly chat on the phone.

• Lastly – let go. Remember that the more resistant you are to your son's emotional growth, the more of a struggle it will become. Some parents have a very difficult time giving their adolescents enough opportunities to make their own decisions. Being too restrictive can provoke the rebellious and possibly dangerous behaviors you're trying to avoid.

This marks a time to adjust to your new role in your son's life as well as changes in your identity as a parent. Your relationship with your son may become more peer-like, and you will have to get used to giving him his privacy.

Good luck,

Mark Hutten, M.A.

JOIN Online Parent Support

1 comment:

valentina408 said...

He is 17 and ruining right now, they needed answers and you are suggestimg its just ENS??

Join Our Facebook Support Group

Contact Form


Email *

Message *

Online Parenting Coach - Syndicated Content