Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Empty Nest? Tips to Stay Connected with Fledglings

Three o’clock came and went and no one threw open the front door. The volume control on the car radio was exactly where I left it. The bag of pretzels I munched on had been in the cupboard for nearly a week. My husband and I were officially empty nesters.

I have to admit it was a weird, mixed up feeling. Half of me wanted to shout “Halleluiah!”—no more meals served in shifts, no more arguments over curfews, and no more drama over friendships on the fritz.

The other half of me speculated about what my grown children were up to, prayed constantly about how they were adjusting, and missed them terribly. Many parents are experiencing these same feelings this week and are wondering how they can stay connected. Here are a few simple tips our little flock found helpful when our fledglings left the nest.

CALL: Sometimes I just needed to hear my son or daughter’s voice. Talking over everyday happenings—the neighbor’s cat had five kittens, the pizza shop downtown has a new name (again), or a high school friend’s engagement— kept us bonded together and reassured me that my child was fine. We called often, but found it worked best to set a regular time when a call could be expected. 

TEXT/EMAIL: For short messages and quick answers, nothing beats text and email. It’s worth the investment. When our son was stationed in England, email was our lifeline to him. With just the click of a mouse he could easily request the recipe for his favorite chocolate “Wacky” cake or find out which over-the-counter allergy meds we recommended.

WRITE: People still enjoy discovering a personal letter or thoughtfully chosen greeting card in the mailbox. In this world of easily deleted communiqu├ęs, letters and cards are a physical keepsake that lasts.

SHARE PRAYER: We often called or emailed each other for prayer when we (or a friend or relative) needed it—for sickness, jobs, relationship, upcoming tests, whatever. It became an extension of our previous morning routine when our family shared prayer and a reading from a devotional booklet. When the kids left the nest, we continued the tradition by picking up a couple of extra booklets to mail to them. Though many days the booklets went unopened, both kids appreciated the connection with home they felt when they read them.

TRUST: Best of all, as your heart plays a tug of war this week, remember:
“If [my child] rises on the wings of the dawn, if [my child] settles on the far side of the sea, even there [God’s] hand will guide [them], [God’s] right hand will hold [my child] fast.
If I say, ‘Surely the darkness will hide [my child], and the light will become night,’ even the darkness will not be dark to [God]; the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to [God]. Psalm 139:9-12 (NIV)

No matter where our child goes, no matter what he or she may do, God is with them. His holy hands won’t let go.

Blessings today and every day!

©2011 Pamela D. Williams