Fathers and the Empty Nest

Author:
Dr. James Dobson


When we hear the phrase "empty nest" we often think of mothers who are going through pain and depression as their children move away. But research shows that fathers feel the pain as well—in many cases even more intensely than their wives.

The movie Father of the Bride is hilarious. But it's also a touching tribute to the love of a father for his daughter. When George, the dad, sits across from his daughter at the dinner table and learns that she's engaged, he takes the news hard. He can't believe what he's hearing. He has to clear his vision as he sees her as a little baby girl, and then as the tomboy of eight or ten years, and finally as a beautiful young woman of eighteen. His little girl has grown up, and she's leaving him. He will never again be main man in the life of this baby or this little girl or this beautiful young adult. A part of his life is over, and there's grieving to be done.

George's experience is not so unusual. A recent study asked four hundred parents of college freshmen to report their feelings when their son or daughter left home.

Surprisingly to some, the fathers took it harder than the mothers. And one of the chief explanations was regret. Fathers had been so busy—working so hard—that they suddenly realized it was too late to build a relationship with the then-grown child.

If you still have teenagers at home, take a moment regularly to enjoy your remaining time together. Those days will be gone in the blink of an eye.

From Dr. Dobson's book Handbook of Family Advice.

Related Resources

Dad's Vital Role in Building Character Into His Sons

My Greatest Challenge as a Dad

Every Dad Has Some Regrets

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