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Dads and the Empty Nest

We are going to start this discussion with a little light humor from a dad who has yet to experience empty nest syndrome for himself.


When we first think of empty nests, before we think about the joy of a new phase in life, we think about the sadness and loneliness—of the mother. But who now needs the father?

Mothers have to reinvent their roles with their adult children, but this is also a problem for men although they don’t talk much about it.

Celia Dodd wrote:

Listless, disgruntled and generally underpar. My husband, Tom, had been feeling like this for several months and neither of us could work out what was wrong.

When he consulted his GP, we were both surprised by the diagnosis. The doctor thought the cause of Tom’s malaise might be empty nest syndrome. In other words, he was feeling desolate after the last of our three children flew the nest.

It is a syndrome widely associated with women, so it didn’t even cross my mind that my husband, a molecular biologist, might be suffering from it.

from: It’s not only women who dread an empty nestA fascinating new book which uncovers one of the last taboos among men by Cecia Dodd.

Tom’s feelings were not unusual, but it is something that men do not want to talk about. While women will share their feelings with friends and family, men find it difficult to talk about feelings with their friends or even with the children.

Another father, Ray Paprocki, wrote in “Who Needs Dad?” in the AARP June/July 2012 magazine that after reading several books on fathering adult children, he sat down with each of his grown children  and talked to them about his complicated emotions. “And I asked each one the same question: What do you expect of me now as a father?”

He was surprised by his daughter’s request for his wisdom. This both honored and intimidated him.

Other men are not only facing the children leaving the home at this time in their lives, but they are also seeing their career level off and they are spending more time with their wife without the children there. Suddenly they are faced with a woman that they no longer know. The divorce rate rises when children leave home, says Dr. Arthur Kovacks, a clinical psychologist in Santa Monica, CA. “Father’s Empty Nest” by Susan Yara in Forbes Magazine.

“Couples sometimes have to renegotiate the marriage,” says Dr. Kevin Kerber, a clinical psychiatrist and assistant professor in the department of psychiatry at the University of Michigan. “For example, they may have had a good pattern that was relatively stable when the kids were around–everything from who cooked and cleaned to sexual frequency.

“When faced with emotional pressure, it can be easy for men to turn to bad habits, like drinking. Needless to say, it’s not a good idea.”

The empty nest time should be a time for both parents to re-evaluate their lives, rediscover their marriage, consider all the possibilities now open to them now that they have less responsibility. If they need psychological assistance, this is not a sign that they have failed. It just means they need some help from someone who has some good advice.

For more information you might check out the books that Ray read or go to the following websites:


empty nestStanton Lawson is the Co-Owner of Sequoia Senior Solutions. Sequoia’s mission is to ensure a better quality of life for their elderly clients and their families, by providing dependable and affordable in-home care. Sequoia’s focus is to keep you or your loved ones at home and avoid:

  • Loss of friends and possessions
  • Loss of independence and freedom
  • Loss of spirit which is drained by the battles of daily living

Sequoia Senior Solutions, Inc. serves Napa, Sonoma, Marin, Solano, Mendocino, Lake Counties. The main office is located at191 Lynch Creek Way, Suite 102, Petaluma, CA 94954. Email  Tel: (707) 763-6600 Fax: (707) 763-6607,

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  1. Okay, that video cracked me up! I also never think about the father, perhaps because I work from home and prior to that was a stay-at-home mom, while my husband works out of an office and travels frequently. It always seemed to me that it would be harder for me just because I am around the kids more. I also think that it might be harder for me than other moms that work away from home, just because the patterns don’t change as much for the “office workers” than they do for the ones that have been responsible as the chauffeur/cheerleader/feeder/etc. But I guess that doesn’t mean that the dad or office worker have no feelings on the subject. It will be interesting to see what happens in my house as we have our first leaving the nest next year. Great insight – thank you!

  2. Stanton Lawson

     /  July 16, 2012

    Thanks for your comment, Suerae. Even though the father has a different sort of relationship with the children than the mother, when his child leaves the nest, that relationship is strained. Many girls, for example, are Daddy’s little girl. Having her leave home starts a grieving process for him as strong as for mother having kids leave her side. We just don’t talk about it, but that doesn’t mean we don’t feel it. Thanks for sharing and glad you liked the video.

  3. I became an empty nester about 4 years ago. And, it was not fun. I had arranged my work and play times around those of my children. (Single parents of either gender tend to do that.)
    And, now that my son (the youngest of the semi-tribe) is about to graduate from college, and spending the summer (for the fourth year in a row away) at the LSE, the final shoe is about to hit the floor.
    Loved the post.

  4. Stanton Lawson

     /  July 17, 2012

    It is amazing to even hear a father willing to admit that it was not an easy adjustment. Thank you, Roy. We appreciate your candor.

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