How To Strengthen Relationships When Your Empty Nest Fills Up

Empty Nest Blessed by Suzy Mighell
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When your empty nest fills up for the holidays, it’s an adjustment. Oh, it’s on, empty nesters. Not only is your peaceful, quiet, clean nest upended, but your workload multiplies. I hear you loud and clear. I’ve already been to the grocery store every single day this week! Hahahaha! (Lemme just say, these people eat a lot. And I forgot that!)

But if you’re like me, none of that matters. When your empty nest fills up again, your focus will be on your kids, and your joy at having your chicks home to roost will be boundless. So how can you make the most of the time you have with your adult kids this holiday season? What can you do to strengthen relationships and build trust with those you love? Today, I’m sharing my game plan!

1. Be Intentional

Spend time thinking about your goals for your time with your kids. What are your goals? How do you plan to accomplish them? (I highly recommend committing this to paper.)

When my adult children are home, my goals are always the same: (1) To make our home and family a fun and positive place where they love to spend time; (2) To build them up and encourage them. Ideally, having those two clear-cut goals will impact every word out of my mouth and everything I do.

2. Adjust Your Expectations

Whether we realize it or not, we all have expectations of how the holidays should look and feel. (I completely blame artists Norman Rockwell and Thomas Kinkade for this!) In addition, when our kids come home, we have a tendency to make assumptions about how our interactions and conversations will go. This is a dangerous business! Don’t fall for it. No one can live up to these kinds of expectations. Not you. Not your kids. Think about your goals and resolve to go with the flow as much as possible.

3. Be Positive and Radiate Love

When your kids are adults, your relationship with them shifts from one of parenting to one of friendship. If you want to stay relevant and important in their lives, you need to learn to be a good friend to them! Good friends are good listeners; they ask good questions; they are respectful, encouraging, supportive, and thoughtful. They don’t give advice without being asked. If you want your kids to think of you as their friend, you’ll need to be the kind of friend they enjoy being around and can trust with their hearts. If you’re like me, this will not come naturally! Why? Because when it comes to our kids, our default is still to parent them. Don’t fall into that trap! When you do (and you will), apologize and tell them you’re working on it. For more on this topic, see this post.

4. Keep Your Sense of Humor

Don’t take yourself too seriously! Be quick to laugh at situations that will occur, mishaps that will arise, and especially at yourself. Look for the humor in the YouTube videos your kids show you (my young adult kids are obsessed) and the funny stories they tell. Laughter makes everything better.

5. Lean on Your Support System

Undoubtedly, there will be times that you need to talk through a situation or even vent over the holidays. That’s totally normal. Make plans with your spouse or a trusted friend to be that support system for each other. I rely on my faith, my husband, and sometimes even deep breathing exercises (!) when things get exasperating or frustrating.

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What do you do to strengthen relationships with those you love? I’d love to know your tips for making the most of the holidays with your kids. Please leave me a comment below and share your advice! You guys have so much wisdom!

 

 

 

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Suzy Mighell

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15 Comments

  1. This is such a good post, Suzy! And wait until grandchildren arrive and you have to keep your parenting “suggestions” to yourself! LOL! NYJD Marilyn’s are my go to. You look great. Sharing this with my ladies on Facebook. Merry Christmas

    1. Cathy,
      Thank you so much! I’m so glad you enjoyed it! Aren’t those jeans amazing?! They feel so good! Thanks so much for your sweet comment! xoxo Suzy

  2. Thank you for all your great content, I look forward to your blog in my inbox. I was just saying to another empty nester yesterday that I try and never give my grown kids advice or my opinion unless they ask. I think this sends the message that I trust them and believe in their abilities. 🙂 I actually do pretty good at this because I see my children doing great.

    Not related to this post, but with the new year looming….. I was wondering if you would consider sharing how you stay organized, your planning system, etc. I always like to hear about this type of thing and usually find something to incorporate into my own life.

    1. Suzanne,
      Thank you so much for your sweet comment! I think all of us just need a giant piece of duct tape over our mouths when the kids are home, amirite?!!! I always pray for lots of self-control! ???? Thanks for the post suggestion! I will definitely do that. Hugs to you and thank you so much for reading Empty Nest Blessed. Merry Christmas! xoxo Suzy

  3. Thank you for your very thoughtful posts about parenting adult children. Your posts serve as a great resource for me to pass along to friends still struggling with wanting to give advice and continue to control their adult children.

    1. Lori,
      Well that is just the sweetest! You made my day. Thank you so much for taking the time to pass that encouraging word along to me! Merry Christmas! xoxo Suzy

  4. Good morning, Suzy, Those daily trips to the store are probably a good thing—they give you some space and time to recharge if things ever get a bit tense dealing with those millennials!???? My twins are college juniors still in college and on my “payroll”—so I still feel entitled to step in with “advice” as needed! My name is on their car titles and I pay their bills. I try to plan outings like movie nights and visits to an escape room that the four of us will all love. Having a sense of humor and not planning too much helps. We have a large enough house that our college kids can have some alone time if they like. We also play board games and watch movies and bowl games together. I always plan a special family dinner out on December 30 every year—this year is the Melting Pot.

    Happy Holidays!
    Andrea Spencer

    1. Andrea,
      What a great plan! You are such a good mom. You’re right! As long as they’re on your payroll, you should give opinions when necessary. You’re still parenting! It sounds like you’re doing a great job laying the foundation for a wonderful relationship with them as adults. Thank you so much for reading and for sharing your wisdom! Merry Christmas! xoxo Suzy

  5. Suzy, My family is a blended family. Two of our young adult children are “his” and two are “mine.” They are all in their mid twenties and out of the home. We actually work pretty well together as a family during most of the year but the holidays are full of emotional landmines. Perhaps you could offer some suggestions? Also would love if you would address some of the special challenges of blended families in a blog post. Thanks.

    1. Laura,
      Wow! I didn’t know you had a blended family. That is a tricky one! I would love to do that! (As much as I can without having a blended family myself.) Let me think and pray on that and see if I can come up with some good resources and ideas. Thank you so much for the suggestion. Happy New Year, sweet friend! xoxo Suzy

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