Why should a daughter leave her mother

When the kids leave the house: dos and don'ts for parents alone at home

It will happen with the same certainty as the first heartbreak, the first rebellion against the parents or the first intoxication: At some point, the offspring who we felt were changing their diapers two or three years ago will leave their parents' home. Maybe he does it very early because he has to move for an apprenticeship, maybe a little later for his studies and maybe he'll stay a few years longer.

Many parents suffer from the so-called “Empty Nest Syndrome”: Mothers no longer feel needed. Fathers regret not having enough time for their children. The sudden silence and emptiness in the house seems unbearable, saying goodbye to the offspring is a process of mourning. Even if it is not easy, in the end there is what every parent ultimately wants: an independent young adult. The following article aims to convey what parents should and, above all, should not do.

Do: Accept that it's inevitable

Letting go begins with the birth of the child. The older the offspring, the more independent it becomes. And that's good!
In puberty, the tatters fly between teenagers and parents. The daily arguments revolve around tidying up, doing homework, music that is too loud, parties, alcohol, tattoos. In view of this, many parents literally long for the day of moving out. However, this does not protect against the "Empty Nest Syndrome" either.

When the day comes, the situation is often different: in the meantime, things have smoothed out and the relationship has improved. The child's departure leaves an unexpected void. Suddenly it is unusually quiet in the house. Everyday life has to be reorganized. So far, everything has revolved around the appointments of the offspring: The daily trip to kindergarten or school, visits to the doctor, trips to friends and leisure activities, parents' evenings and everyday rituals such as lunch and dinner together, clean-up actions and coping with mountains of laundry are now noticeable suddenly gone tomorrow.

The exhausting teenager has become a young woman or a young man. With the end of school, a new phase of life begins not only for the offspring, but also for the parents. The training or studies often take place a long way from home. Either the child will find a new place to stay in a shared apartment or they will look for their own accommodation.

What should parents do with the newly gained time? Suddenly they are no longer primarily a father and mother, but a couple again. That turns the relationship upside down. In many cases, the spouses have to approach each other anew.
What parents should realize is that cutting the child's cord from the home is the normal way of doing things. If an adult child is about to leave the nest and stand on their own two feet, you've done everything right! After all, the independent young person who takes his life into his own hands is the goal of all educational efforts.

Don’t: Try to put it off

Delaying moving out is not a good idea. For one thing, the child cannot be prevented from growing up. On the other hand, less self-confident young adults now need someone who motivates them and who believes in them. That can also be a nudge towards taking off!

Parents who hold back their insecure children or who put obstacles in the way of self-confident daughters and sons destroy their self-esteem.

At best, the farewell is postponed for a while. But: postponed is not canceled. The emotional grief work still comes down to the parents.

Do: Allow grief

It is usually particularly difficult for mothers when the children leave the nest. On the one hand, they are usually mainly responsible for providing for the family. On the other hand, the departure of the children and with it the change from active to passive motherhood often coincides with the onset of menopause.

That means women have to reorient themselves:

• Much of the housework is eliminated. This reduces the additional stress after work.
• The partnership is put to the test: Are there still enough connections after the children have moved out? Or are the couple drifting apart?
• There is no active motherhood. With this the woman loses part of her role. She doesn't feel needed anymore.
• Aging is perceived more consciously.
• Younger colleagues take over the helm at work.

In other words: it is no longer the way it used to be. All of life is turned upside down.

It's perfectly okay to let the pain in about it. The Swiss psychotherapist Verena Kast compares the detachment from the children with the grief for a deceased person. She advises you to go through this process consciously. After all, letting go is saying goodbye.

While the children enjoy the leap to freedom for the most part, mothers feel left behind. Fathers are more likely to torture themselves with self-reproach. This is especially true for workaholics who had little time for the offspring. They feel like they missed their offspring growing up. According to Verena Kast, a rapprochement on an adult level is only possible when the grief is given space.

Do: Go through the grief phases

In this grieving process, mothers and fathers go through four phases. Women who are down and depressed in their early to mid-50s do not necessarily have climacteric depression, as is often diagnosed. Sometimes there is a mother's difficulty in coming to terms with the new situation in life. The “empty nest syndrome” is to blame for the depression: the children are gone. Her previous task is finished and she feels useless.

What helps: consciously going through the four phases of mourning:

1. Not wanting to admit it: Parents try to console themselves with the thought that their children often come to visit on the weekends. You push the thought of moving out and changing your life.
2. Anger: According to psychotherapist Verena Kast, a certain anger is also normal. After all, parents did a lot for their children. And these “just like that” leave the parental home and possibly turn to a new life partner.
3. Searching and separating: Parents fluctuate between closeness and distance to their children. They are trying to find a good way to be close to the child, but also to let them live their own life.
4. New reference to self and world: In the fourth phase of mourning, mother and father make peace with the situation. During this time, parents often begin to implement their own projects. The children's room may become a hobby room or a guest room. Maybe the parents go on trips together or start a language course together.

Don’t: rearrange immediately

As soon as the offspring have moved out, are they rearranged? Not a good idea. On the one hand, this offends the daughter or son. It seems to her as if her parents couldn't wait to finally get rid of her. This can give the parent-child relationship a crack.

On the other hand, mother and father need time to get over the loss of the child. Anyone who tries to skip the first three phases of grief is really not letting go and as a result suffers more than is necessary. It is better to take your time with rearranging.

Do: Be and stay the point of contact

Just because the daughter or son is leaving does not mean that the parents are no longer in demand. They are often the first port of call if the adult child encounters problems.

These can be financial worries. But everyday problems also lead children to pick up the phone and contact their parents: How does the red wine stain get out of the blouse? How many degrees does the chicken belong in the oven? How do I gently clear the sink again? All of these things require parental expertise.

In the case of relationship problems, the daughter often takes the mother into confidence. After all, she can benefit from her life experience. Social media make it easy for family members to keep in touch. Even if the adult children end up abroad as part of their studies: A WhatsApp message, a Facebook post or new photos on Instagram ensure that the parents continue to participate in all milestones.

When the offspring are at the door on the weekends, it becomes clear that it is not only difficult to cut the cord on one side. The relationship between parents and children remains intact. It just evolves and grows up.

Don’t: Saw off family traditions

Family traditions that have been cherished are likely to be retained by the offspring and passed on to their own children. Traditions have a strong binding force. Therefore, parents shouldn't make the mistake of giving them up just because the kids are out of the house. Rituals give them warmth. They keep memories of childhood alive and well.

Do: Weave a safety net

Young adults are not necessarily safety conscious. When thinking about moving out and having their first apartment of their own, they primarily see their new freedoms:

• Be able to arrange yourself as you wish
• tidy up when and how to find it right
• no longer have to follow parental rules

Parents think primarily of obligations, duties and responsibilities:

• Pay rent and ancillary costs regularly
• Take out insurance (liability, household effects, occupational disability, life insurance)
• finish university or training with good grades
• Find a well-paying, secure job
• Avoid debt

Something can always go wrong. The offspring may take on themselves financially and then have money worries at home and ask for support. Here parents would do well to be prepared for any eventuality, perhaps with an emergency account and a safety net that works when it is really necessary. The adult children should know that their parents are always a point of contact for them. That gives you security.

If necessary, the parents can initially provide occupational coverage for a later date. The risks are often underestimated here and the financial framework for the next generation is still tight, especially during their training. However, it makes sense to take out early insurance for certain types of insurance, such as against occupational disability. There are usually no problems with the health check and due to the early start, the regular contributions are set low. If the children are financially on their own two feet, they can do this themselves with the favorable conditions.

Don’t: Become a parenthesis mom

Anyone who monitors every step of the adult offspring like a mother hen and interferes in everything is not doing himself or the child a favor. Constant calls, constant WhatsApp messages, SMS and emails are annoying and leave the adult son or daughter feeling uneasy. When mothers behave in this way, they are showing that they do not trust their adult children. Yes, maybe even don't trust them. It's not comfortable.

Mothers may not even realize how restrictive and demanding they are. Adult children should carefully claim space for themselves and make it clear that they are living their own life.

Perhaps clingy mothers also have difficulties with the characteristic alternation of closeness and distance: If they are lovesick, the daughter may be in constant contact with the mother - as long as there is a good, trusting relationship between them. If everything goes well in love, there may be radio silence for a while.

There are young people who only contact their parents when they need help. This can be money, advice or practical support. Others do the opposite: They only contact you when they are really doing well. They prefer to solve problems themselves. As a rule, parents know what makes their offspring tick.

In any case, less is more. It is sufficient to convey to the child that the parents are there in case of difficulties.

Do: Enjoy the newfound freedom

It may take a while, but at some point most parents realize that they have significantly more time and freedom than before. After all, school and semester holidays or the offspring's appointments no longer determine the daily routine. Breakfast no longer has to be on the table on time. There are no more mountains of laundry in the laundry room and there is also no need to clear it up afterwards.

From now on, mother and father have the opportunity to organize their day the way they like. At first, the sadness of moving out probably overshadows everything. It takes time for parents to perceive and use their new freedom.

Don’t: Continue to follow the child

As in Peter Bichsel's short story “The Daughter”, some parents keep their established habits: daughter Monika is an adult, works in the city and lives her own life. Your parents are struggling to cope with the new situation. They do not understand the signals from the daughter, who does not want to tell them anything about her new life. Instead of finally letting go and concentrating on each other again, the parents continue to focus on the child. They prefer to wait idly at the set dinner table until Monika arrives by train. Her only topic of conversation: the daughter.

Couples shouldn't let it get that far in the first place. It helps to adjust to the fact that it takes a long time to raise children. But that after around two decades an end is in sight. So that women and men still have something to say to each other afterwards, it makes sense to regularly spend exclusive time as a couple right from the start.

Do: Resurrect old times with dad

Nothing keeps memories more alive than anecdotes. It's fun to recall funny moments from the past, to think about special moments from childhood together and to laugh.

Another thing that connects people is doing things together. The father shows the daughter how to install sockets or helps the son change tires. Maybe everyone also works together in the kitchen and conjures up a family dinner to bring the old days back to life. Even old films can bring back the familiar atmosphere of yesteryear - if you use them as an opportunity to talk. It's not enough to sit at the coffee table and say goodbye after an hour if fathers and children want to keep in touch.

Activities weld together.

Don’t: Forget that you are a mother

Even if the children no longer live at home: a mother remains a mother. Relationships with adult children are changing. It becomes more cooperative and ideally more equal. Still, it would not be right to speak of friendship. As a rule, the child has more than enough girlfriends. But it only has one mother. And that is still in demand, even if it predominantly performs this role passively.

Help, support, uncomplicated understanding: mothers know their children. Over the years they become more self-determined. Nevertheless, there is hardly anyone who knows their son or daughter so well and so deeply.

The mother may be particularly in demand when the children have offspring. After all, she has experienced everything that is about to happen to the young parents herself. She can understand the difficulties, provide advice and assistance and occasionally step in as a babysitter. Provided that the physical distance allows this.

Do: Ask for the green light for the renovation

Why not openly involve the adult child in the renovation plans? It shows the daughter and the son that mother and father have come to terms with the situation. At the same time, the adult children perceive that their parents' lives continue. For them, too, it is a learning process: They experience that their parents develop, change and that they no longer participate in everything - unless they actively try to do so.

If the son or daughter knows about the renovation, it is also less harmful to see the old children's room transformed into a music room, guest room or sauna the next time they visit.

Don’t: Travel behind

Family researcher Hans Bertram finds it perfectly normal for parents to travel after their adult children. At least when they build up an existence in another country, start a family there and can no longer just fly to Germany. That's perfectly fine. After all, grandparents want to see their grandchildren.

Spatial distance makes everyday contact between family members difficult: Simply stepping in as a babysitter is not possible for the mother.Neither can dad support his offspring with the renovation. There is nothing to prevent parents from spending their annual vacation in the adopted home of their adult children.

In doing so, you show that you accept the decision of the offspring and find solutions to keep in touch.
It looks different when parents follow their possibly highly mobile children everywhere:

• The offspring goes on a trip around the world. At the airport, his parents stand incognito behind him.
• The daughter is touring Germany with her band. In the front row, mom and dad always cheer as the biggest fans.
• In order to improve professional opportunities, the youngsters change universities several times and study abroad for one or two semesters. When renovating the new room in a shared apartment, mother and father are always ready with the wallpapering table.

Parents should avoid this type of control as much as possible.

Do: Let the child live his life too

Letting go includes letting the child have their own life - and their mistakes. Young people make wrong decisions. You trust too quickly. You don't think things through to the end. It acts from the gut. As much as parents want it, they cannot protect their daughter or son from everything. They have to make certain experiences themselves. That is part of life. Even if parents continue to feel responsible, they should understand that their influence on the lives of their offspring is diminishing. That too is normal and correct.

Accordingly, well-intentioned advice is not necessarily welcome. Especially not if they are done without being asked. Adult children probably perceive this as interference.

Don’t: crush younger siblings

Once the parents have experienced what it is like when a child moves out, they often concentrate more on the younger siblings. This is where the next danger lurks: It is not a good idea to overwhelm younger children with constant attention.
The rule here: it is better to learn from the experiences with the oldest child and see what the child needs. The reins should be relaxed with a confident young adult. Shy, less confident daughters and sons may need parental encouragement to make the leap into self-employment.

Parents know their children better than anyone else. This transition period can best be mastered with tact, trust and love.


Yes, the “Empty Nest Syndrome” really does exist. And it can also meet parents who are perhaps already secretly looking forward to the lift of the offspring - perhaps even particularly strong. The most important rule is to accept the inevitability of this departure. Without him, your child would never become an independent adult. With that in mind, the rest of the process doesn't work by itself, but it is a lot easier.

Adult children who move out and confidently take their lives into their own hands with confidence and joy in the future show that their parents have done a good job!