Rise of the Empty Nesters
Edition #31: Mid-life transitions, longevity planning, active ageing and much more!
According to the Global Parents Survey by the Varkey Foundation, Indian parents spend the most time on the homework of their children in the world.
62% of Indian parents spend on an average 12 hours on their children’s homework, almost 2.5 times over the global average for this cohort.
The success or failures of our education system, or the socio-economic realities of parenting, are not really the parts I want to dissect.
What happens when all the homework there is to be done, is actually done?
What when there is little dependence on parents for children to get on with their life?
What happens when children grow up and move out of the house?
What happens to the parents who now have all the time to themselves
Welcome to Empty Nesting.
“Empty nest syndrome isn't a clinical diagnosis. Instead, empty nest syndrome is a phenomenon in which parents experience feelings of sadness and loss when the last child leaves home. Recent studies suggest that an empty nest might reduce work and family conflicts, and can provide parents with many other benefits. When the last child leaves home, parents have a new opportunity to reconnect with each other, improve the quality of their marriage and rekindle interests for which they previously might not have had time.”
Source: Mayo Clinic
For the sake of discussion, let us take a couple that has just arrived in the empty nesting zone. They have worked hard and (continue to) lead busy professional lives and are financially secure, healthy, socially well placed, spiritually grounded and have all the good things that life has to offer. They have just realized also that they will be living by themselves, and a whole new world is ahead of them. It is like ground zero all over again, and a bit similar to the time when they started out their lives, and since navigated the many life events and milestones together.
While there is no one-size-fits-all solution, and I won’t even attempt one, (empty nester) families are likely to (re)imagine their future as they see fit, and shift some of their thinking around what matters most to them, as individuals, a couple and as a family.
This is likely the commencement of a conversation around the next decade and more, on how to live and plan for the future ahead. This may manifest in exploring new activities and adventures, and commencing passion projects, independently or together. These conversations and experiences are likely to take many shapes and forms, and sometimes none at all, given many factors leading up to this stage. For example, business or joint families are less likely to go through these transitions as there is a fluid continuity in mid- and later life transitions while professionals with more demarcated boundaries of private space, independence, and slightly codified family relationships may face a different set of challenges. Family, particularly parents and their lives, is likely to shape some of this thinking, and thus influence these decisions.
Empty nesting is an interesting trend that is likely to rise given the structural changes in the Indian family over the last three decades (nuclearaziation, urbanisation, economic upsides, etc), and with longevity (increase in average lifespan of general population), it is likely to be an interesting space to watch!
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