Empty Nest

Updated on August 01, 2010
J.L. asks from San Diego, CA
11 answers

I have a neighbor whose daughter is leaving for a fantastic university next month. My neighbor's husband died when her daughter was six-years-old and its been the two of them ever since. I know they are both conflicted about this transition. She is trying to let go but it is obvious it is a difficult time for both of them. I'm surprising the daughter a local tab an awesome pizza place near her dorm. The mother, any suggestions. I would like to do something special for her. Ideas? I can only imagine her pain and pride she's experiencing!


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answers from San Diego on

Hi Jen, First i want to say what a good friend and neighbor you are. I would just be a friend, do hang outs together, I have one child out of the house, and with a husband pets, and 2 others still at home it is hard, I miss my son everyday, so i can imangine how the lady must feel. Just be the good friend that you are, and make time with her when you can. J.

2 moms found this helpful

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answers from Dallas on

That's very nice of you to want to help your neighbor. Invite her over for coffee or to go shopping and out to lunch. See if she wants to get involved in any neighborhood activities. Offer to go with her. If you have a hobby, ask her if she wants to try it-- or if she has a hobby, ask about her teaching you. Remind her what a great job she did of raising her daughter and that this is such a growing experience for both of them. If your neighbor is not set up on the internet, make sure her daughter helps her before she leaves. Maybe they can set up a webcam (or i-chat) for visiting on line.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

Do you know if the your friend and her daughter have a webcam?
You can give one to them (there are some cheap ones) so they can see each other any time. My mom is living in Mexico but thanks to Sky I can talk and see her for free any time.
Also what about to bring her a boucher from a community collage for her, do you know what she likes?
Now that she will have some more time she may can take a class like gardening, international cooking, etc.
What about some pretty stationary paper for her and her daughter with some envelopes so they can write letters.
If what you are looking is an activity, then you can take care to fun cooking class or you can take her to shop something for her daughters room.
Once her daughter leaves for collage you can visit her once in a while, bring some cake or ice cream and just let her talk about how well her daughter is doing, etc.
Is nice that you care about your friend and I understand what she must be feeling, my daughter is only 12 but sometimes I think what i am going to do when she leaves for collage and is a mix of emotions (proud and nostalgic).

3 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

I'm sure the mother will be very lonely once her daughter leaves. I think she would very much appreciate some company. Invite her over for lunch or a cup of tea.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Raleigh on

What about spending a spa day with her? It would help her to relax, and the two of you could talk. If you are close with her, maybe you could also invite her over every week, every other week, etc. for dinner or tea? This would make it a long term help, versus just a one-time deal! How sweet of you to think of them both!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

when her daughter leaves.. maybe you and the mom could go to a movie.. and maybe make a weekly date with her... just to hang out.. .... maybe just to be together... maybe take a walk every wed night or something like that... i know i will be sad when my son goes to school.. it won't be for another 4 years.. but i know i will be sooo upset.. and sad... it's hard when they grow up.. just be there for her..

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Redding on

Oh God, how I am dreading this.
My daughter moved out years ago and she'll be 24 in October, but my son just turned 15. He's only got 3 more years of high school left and wants to move away to go to school. I simply can't imagine my life without him. It makes me want to cry. He always says, "Mom....wherever I go, I'm taking you with me." Bless his heart.
Just be sure to be there for the mom because I know she will really have a hard time adjusting to her daughter being gone even though it's for a wonderful reason. We raise our kids to be able to be out on their own, but the reality of it hits like a ton of bricks when it happens. And those are the times you truly realize how quickly time goes by. Just like getting adjusted to having a child, you have to get adjusted to them not being there everyday anymore.
But, they can still stay close, their bond isn't broken. She will always need and love her mother. Just try to give words of encouragement and help to keep her company.
I know this sounds bad, but I have friends who can't wait for their youngest to graduate and be out on his own because they are looking forward to just concentrating on themselves for a change and travelling and doing whatever they want. They adore their children, but they're also glad the youngest will be gone while they are still young enough to take their RV cross country or just have the two of them to go where the wind blows them.
Maybe because I've raised my kids myself and I don't have a husband, I feel more sentimental about things.
Even 3 years from now, I won't be ready to have an "empty nest", but I know it's coming and I'll survive it. Hopefully I'll eventually have some grandchildren to liven things back up a bit.

You sound like a great friend. Just be there for mom.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Austin on

Our daughter goes to college over 2000 miles away. We miss her every day she is there.. The only thing that makes it bearable is that she LOVES it!

What has helped us is the internet, skype and cell phones. Being able to touch base with her. Also when people ask about her, we love giving updates.

I also belong to a moms group that tries to meet once a month during the school year. We do a pot luck with a little wine and all catch up on each others child in college. This is a group of moms that our children all graduated the same year from High School, but not all from the same school and our kids were not all friends with each other. Some of the moms have older and younger kids to so they have lots of different experiences. We are a group of about 18 moms now, but the number that attend each month changes...

Each time we get together we prepare care packages for our children. We also take a small item to place in each childs care package. So if 10 of us will be there we take 10 of the same item.. Post it notes, 100 calorie snacks, gum, hot chocolate packets, highlighters, Texas post cards.. During holiday months sometimes seasonal items will be included.. Whatever.. Our kids each end up with an interesting and sometimes very strange assortment of stuff..

Maybe you could suggest this to your friend and promise to help her organize it each month? Also invite her over for dinner, call her when you are going to the movies, ask her to join you for trips to Target, the garden center... Make some margaritas and just visit every once in a while..
You are a good friend and Yes, she is going to need the distraction..

2 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

Would you like to take a class with her? Something new to focus on might help.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

Wow, this is such a nice thing for you to do! Very considerate! How about a mani/pedi? You 2 could make the day of it. Or maybe a year's worth of Netflix? You could also plan a suprise visit from her daughter in the near future. How about a gift certificate to a hair salon? Good Luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

oh this scares me to death. yes i have 12 years until this happens but so scared about it.
my kids say i am taking with you wherever i go. i wonder if this will still be the case when time comes.
invite the mother over. go out for coffee. take her out for lunch.

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