Empty Nester Mamas, Your Daughters Want You to Know…

Empty Nest Blessed by Suzy Mighell

Ohhh, empty nester mamas, your daughters love you! They’re proud of you and want you to be proud of them too. Wanna know how I know? I asked them.

Last Saturday, I had the opportunity to speak to Baylor University’s Women in Business organization as a part of their Professional Development Summit. Throughout the day, students had an opportunity to hear from keynote and breakout session speakers on various topics, from work/life balance to leaning into your purpose (and lots more). Throughout the day, they also had the opportunity to be mentored in small group settings by C-suite executives from different companies and fields.

I was asked to lead a breakout session, and my topic was Leaning Into Your Purpose. My workshop was basically ⅓ Sunday School lesson, ⅓ business school class, and ⅓ Mom lecture!🤣

I loved participating in this at a distinctly Christian university, where I could talk openly about my faith! I had the opportunity to share with them that God doesn’t waste a thing in our lives, and He has a purpose for theirs (Jeremiah 29:11). They can trust Him with that! I talked about the fact that what I do now and the means by which I do it weren’t even invented back when I was majoring in marketing and journalism in the 1980s! (But God had a plan.)

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On the business front, I shared about diverse revenue streams, managing expenses, contract negotiation, and key analytics and success indicators that are a part of what I do every day. (To read more about the business side of what I do, check out THIS blog post.) These students all follow multiple influencers and had no idea of the business aspect of content creation and the influencer industry. 

Here’s What I Wore!

Lattice Jacquard Ankle Pants (25% off right now) | Scallop Trim Crewneck Tee ((25% off right now and also available in blue and in white) | Similar Fitted Leather Jacket (nearly sold out) | Marc Fisher Block Heel Pump (comfy and stable!)

Finally, I had the opportunity to encourage them as only a mom could, reminding them to take care of their physical, spiritual, mental, and emotional health as well as their relationships every single day. They need to be strong and ready for all the Lord has in store as they pursue His purpose.

I initially felt they wouldn’t want to hear from someone whose niche demographic was their moms (!), but I couldn’t have been more mistaken! They could relate and understand as I shared about the over-50 demographic and what makes us unique. 

For me, the sweetest moment was during the Q&A at the end of my breakout session. As I told them that the most popular topics on the blog were parenting, encouraging, and blessing adult children, they came alive. They wanted to hear more, so I told them how we, as moms, are working to see them as the capable, independent young women they are. For us, doing that represents a change in how we viewed them when they were at home for 18 years, and making that change took effort and intentionality, on our part.

Then, I asked them if they were able to see their moms as women rather than just as their moms. I asked them if they were trying to do that, just as their moms were trying to see them as they became adults.

You could have heard a pin drop.

We talked honestly about how parents sometimes need reminders that their daughters must differentiate and become individuals apart from their parents. I told them that their choices in life may not be the ones we, as their parents, would want them to make (but that it was okay). I told them that their empty nester mamas loved them, wanted them to be healthy, safe, and wise, and that we wanted to transition to the role of friend and trusted counselor (when asked!).

woman standing at the front of a seated group of women with their faces obscured by pink heart for anonymity.

I asked them what they would want to tell their moms if they could do it anonymously. Then I gave them my phone number. I asked them to text me one or two sentences they wanted me to share with their empty nester mamas. Their words could be encouragement or not—really just something they wanted their moms to know.

My phone blew up with texts. Get out your tissues, empty nester mamas, because this is powerful stuff.

One thing I would tell my mom is she’s doing a good job. I wouldn’t be who I am if it weren’t for her. I think about her a lot, and just hearing her talk on the phone makes my day.

I know my choices aren’t always the ones you want me to make. Please support me as I do that, and let me know that you still love and are proud of me. What you think is still so important to me, but I have to make my own way.

Thank you for everything you have done for me. I am proud of you beyond what you know. It’s okay to embrace your new stage of life, and I admire the courage with which you tackle every challenge.

I love hearing that my mom and dad are having fun now that I’m gone. When they’re not available for me, it sometimes frustrates me. But then I realize that my life has changed, and theirs should change, too. We’re all growing, but our family will always be our family.

One thing I want my mom to know is that when she tells me what she thinks, sometimes I hear it as criticism of me, even if she doesn’t mean it that way. What she says to me (even casually) carries more weight than I think she knows.

Mom, I. AM. FINE. I love that you’re on call for me, but trust me, I’ll let you know if I need you. It’s a lot of pressure to feel like your life is still revolving around me. I want to see you and Dad enjoy this time.

Please will you stop expecting me to text you or call you back immediately? It makes me feel like you don’t think I have important things going on in my life, like schoolwork, activities, and friends. These are the things I’m supposed to be focused on right now.

What I want my mom to know is that I want to see her grow and live her own life now that I’m gone. I LIKE it when I call or text her, and she’s too busy to pick up the phone. I’m good, mom! I know you’ll be there if I need you.

Mom, I really care what you think of me, even if I don’t act like it. When you give me advice or tell me what you think, sometimes it feels like you don’t believe in me.

I’m not your little girl anymore. When you treat me like I am, it makes me feel like you don’t have confidence in the daughter you raised, and it makes me have less confidence in myself.

I ask you for advice on too many things, and I know that. You give great advice, but it would probably be better if you sometimes pushed me to make decisions on my own. Tell me you believe in me to make good ones.

Thanks for all you did to raise me right. I can see now that a lot of my friends weren’t as loved and cared for as well as you and Dad cared for me.

When I call you, please just listen. Don’t tell me your opinion on everything. Sometimes I just need you to listen to me without telling me how it was when something similar happened to you when you were my age.

I love you, Mom.

If this post has been helpful (or convicting) to you, would you consider sharing it with your daughter(s)? Chances are, it will spark a much-needed (but healthy) conversation. If you need to ask forgiveness, do it. Clear the air, get on the same page, and pledge to work toward the relationship you both want.

To read more of my posts about parenting adult children, click the links below.

Hugs to you, my sweet fellow empty nester mamas. Trust me, I’m right there with you.

Thank you for sharing my content!
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26 Comments

  1. Thanks Suzy
    This was a beautiful post. I am trying to declutter, need nothing new, don’t participate in a lot of what you are promoting but I am 100% supportive of all your posts on communication. Well done – you get it!
    Wendy in Canada 🙂

    1. Wendy,

      Thanks so much for your comment! Everyone reads ENB for different reasons, and I’m okay with that! I try to serve you all by sharing content for everyone – which is why I don’t stay on one topic for too long!

      My fashion and beauty posts are the most trafficked, and I get that, but I have such a heart to share this type of content as well! It will always be a part of what I do here at ENB!

      Thanks for your encouragement and for taking the time to share your thoughts with me! I’m grateful for you!

      xoxo
      Suzy

  2. This was great Suzy. I really did tear up reading the young women’s remarks. I could hear my daughter saying almost all of them. Thanks so much for this. And what a treat that day must have been. I love that you had that opportunity. 🥰

    1. Kay,

      Thank you so much for your kind words. They mean so much to me. I felt so blessed that the Lord orchestrated the day – differently than I had in mind. It was beautiful!

      I’m so grateful to those young women for their candor! I’ll admit, I was kind of shocked that they jumped at the chance to share their thoughts. That shows me that it was pent-up, and somewhat of a relief to share. (All the more reason to pay attention as mamas!)

      Hugs and blessings to you, my friend!

      xoxo
      Suzy

  3. Suzy, what a great post that really made me take a step back and think about how I communicate with my daughters. I am guilty of trying to give advice when sometimes they just want me to listen. I guess we are always learning on this adventure of empty nesting!
    Thank you so much for sharing this with your readers. This is really valuable.
    Xo

    1. Kelley,

      Thank you so much for sharing, Kelley. It takes WORK to undo 18+ years of habits! I told these young women that! When I challenged them to work on it, too, it was the sweetest light bulb moment!

      They realized they had been doing to their mamas what they were frustrated their mamas were doing to them. (Seeing them in a role—parent/child—vs. seeing them as a woman.)

      We’re all right there with you working on this, my friend! Grateful for your comment!

      xoxo
      Suzy

  4. Thank you for sharing these feelings from the young adult women. As a mother of sons, I was touched by each comment because I can see it relating to sons as well. Valuable information.

    Nancy <3

    1. Nancy,

      You are one wise mama! I see that too! This is such a good reminder for all empty-nester parents, right?

      Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment, my friend!

      xoxo
      Suzy

  5. Suzy, I love your blog, and find all sorts of fashion content that is relevant and fun. But the posts you do in which you address our empty nests and changing roles are some of the best, and this one hit it out of the park! My only daughter is the baby of the family, and at 22, she has navigated leaving the nest during Covid, losing her daddy (also to Covid) and finding her place as a woman in a very uncertain world. We had a conversation only yesterday about her imminent wedding (she got engaged at Christmas), which she and her daddy had been planning since she was old enough to walk around in my high heels. She and her fiance want a much smaller event than any of us originally envisioned, and I was adamant that she not give up on her dad’s dream for her even though he won’t be there to walk her down the aisle. But she gently and firmly said, “Mom, LISTEN. I would be telling Dad the same thing if he were here – we don’t want a big, lavish wedding. I know that was my dream when I was a little girl, but I’m not that little girl any more. We want a MARRIAGE more than we want a wedding, and we want to put our energy and money into that.” And I heard the woman she is now, not the little girl I sometimes want her to still be. So we agreed that when I go to visit her in June to dress-shop, we will revisit her vision, and incorporate her adult self and her precious young man into that instead of just hanging on to what her dad and I planned for. Just wanted to share that sometimes life shapes our daughters (and us) into people we have to catch up with, since they are not the person we originally envisioned, but a better one altogether.

    1. Amanda,

      Your comment had me in tears. You have raised an incredible daughter and are an amazing mama. (Just in case no one has told you today how awesome you are!) I’m so proud of you and honored that you’re here with me at ENB!

      Thank you so much for taking the time to share this story with me and with other ENB followers. What a blessing. My heart is with you as you navigate this wedding with your precious daughter. I feel certain that your husband would be so pleased with this new path moving forward—and so proud of the woman your daughter has become.

      Hugs to you, sweet Amanda!

      xoxo
      Suzy

  6. wow, this is eye-opening. we still have not heard from our adult son in over 1.5 years now…. praying he will contact us soon. any hints, helps are appreciated. lisa

    1. Lisa,

      What a challenging situation. My heart breaks for you, and I am so very sorry.

      I’m certainly not a trained professional counselor or coach, but my best advice is to humble yourself, and take responsibility for any part in the estrangement you may have played. Then you could reach out again and ask if you could meet with him to seek his forgiveness.

      Keep praying. This story is not over yet, sweet mama! Love and hugs to you.

      xoxo
      Suzy

  7. I was looking forward to this post after watching your session at the Nest Insights Forum. Do you have any thoughts on how to navigate a relationship when mental illness may be coming to play? There seems to be a delay getting into see a specialist so we don’t have a diagnosis. One minute she’s up and taking on the world and the next minute she’s calling and asking me to come get her from campus so she can spend the night at home while sobbing with a sense of hopelessness. When a text or call comes, I never know which version of her I’ll get. Any suggestions I give to help are always met with “that won’t work.” It’s hard to know when to let go and when not to, especially when she’s in a state of mind where she can’t or won’t make a rational decision.

    1. Hi Nikki,

      Sweet Mama! I am so sorry you are having this issue. I am not qualified to give you advice about this. When you’re dealing with something like this, you’re right, you need to wait for that appointment with a qualified physician.

      This must be so difficult as this is for you. If possible, if you could separate the person of your daughter from this mental health issue, I think that might help you. When she’s struggling and rejects your advice, if you look at it as her illness talking, rather than HER talking, that might help you with your patience and forbearance. Please don’t take anything she says or how she may treat you personally. It is her illness talking, NOT her.

      Regardless of her diagnosis, I would encourage you to see a counselor as well to help you know how best to cope with parenting well in this situation.

      Please know that I am praying for you.

      xoxo
      Suzy

  8. This resonates with me so much as the mom of two young adult daughters. I fear that I constantly try to over “mom” them. My youngest is working a very stressful job and as I was trying to give her ideas, she stopped me and said “ I’m an adult and adults sometimes have hard times, you’ve had hard times, mom. I’ll be okay.” I guess it’s time for me to be as strong as she is. Thanks for the reminder.

    1. Margie,

      Oh, I so relate and I’m incredibly impressed that your daughter was honest with you and bold enough to speak up. You raised a GREAT girl, Mama!

      It can be so difficult to see them heading down a path that we can see clearly, although they cannot. Watching them go through difficult times hurts almost more than it would if we were going through the challenge ourselves, right? But the best teacher is experience, and the lesson will be a memorable one.

      We all need to do our best not to give advice (aka “ideas” 🫣🫢) unless asked. (Although I confess, I’m often guilty of saying, “I have an idea! Do you want to hear it? You can say no!” 🤣) SHE never says no, but at least I acknowledged to her that I respected her enough to ask. (Sort of! 🤣)

      I’m right there with you, Margie! Hang in there. You’re doing great!

      Thanks so much for your comment and for taking the time to share it.

      xoxo
      Suzy

  9. Well didn’t this post hit home to so many of us!
    I usually read your post in my work lunchbreak but had to stop on this one as I was an emotional wreck.
    Thank you for your brilliant idea with the girls to give them a voice to their Mums and all us Mums. As many of the ladies have said, I could hear my daughter saying many of the comments. We have to let them fly because that’s what we have always wanted for them.
    Carole x

    1. Carole,

      Aw, I’m so glad it was meaningful to you! You are not alone! I cried the entire time I wrote it! Mother and daughter relationships are so precious. Our girls have our hearts for sure!

      I was so proud of the young women for their boldness. They are so much braver than our generation about speaking up and expecting to be heard! I admire that about them and am so grateful to them for trusting me with their words. I definitely wanted to honor them!

      Thanks so much for reading and taking the time to leave a comment, my friend!

      xoxo
      Suzy

  10. I loved hearing what the daughters had to say! I’m a big believer in showing our daughters what it looks like to thrive in this season of life! It’s also a good reminder to let them have the freedom to make their own choices just like we did! Thanks, Suzy, for this sweet post!

  11. Thank you for this post Suzy! You are amazing and I love the variety of your posts. This being one I can totally relate to since I have three adult daughters. I will take what these young women said to heart. Blessings, Martine in New Jersey.

    1. Martine,

      Thank you so much for your comment! I was especially touched that you appreciate the variety of my posts! I truly want ENB to reflect our lives as empty nester women—we love our families deeply, and we also love beauty, fashion, traveling, and living active lives!

      I’m so glad these young women’s words touched your heart. They were so courageous to share honestly with me, and I wanted to do right by them!

      I’m grateful for you!

      xoxo
      Suzy

  12. This post did hit home. I shared it with my three adult daughters. Still waiting to hear their thoughts.
    Thanks for all you do.

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