Empty Nest Syndrome - Oneida,NY

Updated on September 25, 2014
E.C. asks from Fort Covington, NY
14 answers

Any advice for me would be greatly appreciated on this. My mother now has 6 grown children . . . and the worst case of empty nest syndrome I've ever seen!!!! She is driving us all nuts with her constant calling. She is on disability due to a back injury so work isn't occupying any of her time. She does nothing other than to complain about her life and that she is bored. My siblings have tried to suggest hobbies which she ignores.

What else can we do? She is about as stubborn as the sun is hot and refuses to take any of our suggestions. We spend time with her so that's not the problem but she wants constant company. She is divorced and my father is already married. She refuses to date and is completely not interested in starting a new relationship with anyone. I'm at a loss for what to tell her, but she has become soooooooooo clingy that it's really beginning to frustrate my other siblings and me.

1 mom found this helpful

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So What Happened?

Hi ladies! Thanks for the responses so far. She is on meds for depression and has been for quite a while. I could not ask her to babysit because I have deemed her emotionally unstable at this point (she's done some CRAZY stuff in the last few months and even had a few run-ins with the law). I love her dearly but she is totally self-destructing. We live in a very small town so the extra-curricular activities are limited, but I will take some of those suggestions and broach them with her. She HATES animals so having a dog or cat is out of the question. Thanks again!!!!

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answers from New York on

She should have a pet! A dog would probably be the best companion, there are some good options which don't shed or cause allergies, if that is an issue. Walking the dog will get her out of the house, meet other people. A back problem can benefit from walking/moving, because it may help with weight loss and sitting for too long will prolong the issue. A small breed, like a pug, or bijon, mini poodle, french bulldog, etc. would not be difficult to walk. Search shelters for trained dogs, or also rescue centers. I know there is a rescue center for shar peis in south jersey, but there are many others. A pet provides joy, companionship, as well as longevity.

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answers from Redding on

you guys have to teach her how to treat you. If it means being less available than so be it. I had to break my mom of the habit after my stepdad died. There was no way I could take HIS place and do all the things HE did for her, so once I told her "no" to a few things and quit answering the phone every time she called, she became more resourceful and now has a big friend network that do many of the things I was having to do. Now my time with her is on my terms and makes the visits much more appealing. She's currently knitting dishclothes for everyone in the family in her spare time :)
Does she have a PC? Get her one, you know what a great time waster they can be, might help her to focus on something else. I got my mom one and hooked her into facebook and stuff... it does help.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

I feel your pain, but there are some tactics you can employ and if you divide it up between the six of you, it shouldn't feel like so much of a burden. One or two of you can set up a time to go to the gym with her. Water aerobics is wonderful for older ladies and if you (or whoever is with her) is a little more extroverted, you can wind up making some friends.

Does she play bridge? Or something of the like? One of you can volunteer to get involved in a bridge club with her. Minimal commitment for the child, and again, she could wind up making friends that she pursues away from her child.

Anything that you can coax an ounce of interest out of her, you or one of your siblings needs to pounce on and look for social opportunities for her, take her by the hand, and help her navigate the scary waters of socializing. She probably has quite a few issues about her failed marriage and is very nervous about trying to put herself out there as a solo entity. If she's open to therapy, that would be great, but something tells me you're going to have to be a bit more subversive to get her to make personal progress.

Think of it like this: She has six children that she once took by the hand as you neared the playground, nervous about whether the other children would accept you and include you in their games. Now, she feels the same and needs her children to return the favor. With any luck, it won't be long before she's on the teeter totter with her new friends and not all up in your business all the time.

Good luck.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

Introduce her to World of Warcraft and see if she likes computer gaming.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

You realyl can't force her to do anything she doesn't want to do, so I would suggest that you and your siblings start changing the way you interact with her to set some boundaries.

- Don't pick up the phone every single time she calls and make yourselves occassionally unavailable. I know it sounds mean, but you have your own lives and that is OK and normal.
- Have regularly scheduled family time, but don't change plans that you have with others to deal with mom's neediness.
- If there is a group that you (and/or sisters) could join and invite mom to join WITH you, then do it! When I first moved to NY, I didn't really know anyone. My grandmother invited me to join the local Garden Club to meet some other women. Snore... not really! I actually met some very nice women who then introduced me to their very nice daughters. If you join together, you are supporting her in meeting new people and you can fade-back as she makes connections.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Louisville on

Is there a senior citizens center nearby? She could get a good meal and meet some other empty nesters there. Since there are six of you, why not each take a day for her to call you if needed, and then on the seventh day, all can get together to share concerns. One day a week vs. seven days a week would have to be better for everyone. I would also be less availalble, let her leave messages on your machine so if it is an emergency you can pick it up. She needs to get a life, and stop making yours miserable! I would also ask her doctor if she could be depressed. Maybe her attitude would improve if she took meds for that, as it sounds like she may have some sypmtoms of that.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Tampa on

This actually hit me quite hard, because I COULD be dealing with "empty nest" this upcoming fall if it were not for a choice my husband and I made 6 years ago. Our youngest biological daughter just graduated high school a couple weeks ago, and will be leaving for college in August. :( I am THRILLED for her, but the reality of it all hit me and I am going to miss the heck out of her! She is a magical young lady! Anyway..... 6 years ago, we got custody of our young nephew and niece, so we still have 2 kids in our home to parent and love everyday. There are days that I think about the fact that I COULD be done, and would have all kinds of time on my hands to do whatever, but then I am truly VERY grateful that I have my youngest 2 kids now, because I am really not ready to have an empty nest. My thought for your Mom comes from when we were going through our court struggle to actually get legal / permanant custody of the kids. The court appointed a guardian ad litem, and she was WONDERFUL. I believe that this person was a volunteer, if not they were hired to work part time for the courts to represent the children in these types of cases. Is that something that your Mom could do? I know that I watched this woman and thought to myself how wonderful it would be to have the time to devote to helping children who needed a voice, and to be able to go into the court and give the judge my opinion on both homes and where I thought the children would be best suited to live. I would suggest something like that to your MOm. There are sooo many kids who need someone to give them a voice, and she coul;d help them. There are also many other places where she could volunteer her time with kids of all ages. I know of so many young kids who have nobody to talk to, or help with homework, etc. All of these kids need a role model, or someone to show that they really do care about them. It takes a village after all! I hope that your Mom can find a place to go and help out, and to spread all of the love that she has for her own kids who have all moved on with their lives now. It is such a difficult thing. We are excited and happy for our kids, but at the same time we miss them so much and still have all that love and devotion to give but nobody to give it to. Good luck!!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

She needs to take responsibility for her own happiness. If she wants company, it is up to her to go and find some. Stop suggesting hobbies. She needs to find activities on her own. If she complains about being bored, remind her that there are clubs, groups and activities out there and she needs to find them. It is wrong to expect grown children to provide your constant entertainment and companionship. She shouldn't first be looking for friends and hobbies now, after her kids are grown. Women need to have these things in their lives all through their childrearing years so they are not first looking for a way to occupy their time when the kids are grown. My youngest is 12, I'm six years away from not having kids living at home and I'm excited to think about all the things that I can do after work and on the weekends that don't involve driving to band practice and 4H events :)


answers from Boston on

Wow, some of you are cruel--"do not answer the phone", "do not take responsibility", etc.

This is the person who raised her!

Her children are watching how she treats G.. They will do the same with her as she does to G....


answers from Jacksonville on

Wow sounds like you got an instant babysitter! No really, maybe you should just tell her, "Mom I love you, but your kinda driving us all nuts. Isn't there anything you would like to do, learn, try?" See if some upfront honesty will get you somewhere.



answers from New York on

Perhaps she needs to feel needed? Can you get her reading to children? fostering a dog? some other such thing? they give love unequivocally.



answers from New York on

We live in a small town too, so I know what you're talking about. A lot of things are either hidden or non-existant. You might want to find her a church. I know it sounds crazy, but it's about the camaraderie. Some churches have senior citizen groups that meet once a month and go places together just to have fun. Our methodist church here has an "Evergreen club" which is a bunch of senior ladies that go out to different restaurants and local tourist atttractions and talk a lot. Our catholic church here welcomes everyone to go on bus trips with them to Atlantic City. It's fun and they try to keep the expenses affordable. Stick to the older religions and not the new ones. Another option, if she can't get around well is to help her learn the internet and find cool blog spots or chat boards for her.



answers from Des Moines on

Sounds like she may need a bit of therapy to learn to readjust.
Even in small communites there are schools and senior citizens groups that need volunteers! That can entail from just listening to a beginning reader read to her or just being company or a set of legs for errands for a home bound person.
She could deliver cards and flowers in a hospital. I always appreciated seeing a new visitor - even for a short time.
How about a red hat group, card playing group, or sewing circles? Classes to learn scrap booking would be a way for her to preserve the memories she misses.
If there is not a group, maybe you can help her start one of her interest.
You cannot make her better, but you can hand her the tools and information she needs and she can decide to get better or not.
Does she have a computer? I am homebound and it is my main form of communication, shopping, fun, and education.


answers from Los Angeles on

OH man, I feel bad for her and dread the day of being an empty nester. But, she needs to get a life of her own...PERIOD! That would be so hard to deal with... I can imagine the guilt, dread, worry, etc. She should enlist in some volunteering activities for children, animals or the elderly. What about church? They have plenty to do, and volunteer opportunities too. This would drive me crazy! Hearing things like this makes me thankful for having a nonexistent nomadic mother :)

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