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Last Child Leaving Home

  • By: Jennifer L. Tanner
  • In: Encyclopedia of Family Health
  • Edited by: Martha Craft-Rosenberg & Shelley-Rae Pehler
  • Subject:Family Health, Family Policy, Family Law

The last child leaving home affects patterns of family organization and functioning established during the childrearing years. This family event reverberates through the lives of individual family members, stimulating change in both parents and adult children. At this juncture, the family home becomes a permanent residence only to parents, resulting in what has been popularized as “the empty nest.” The roles and responsibilities of parents shift, requiring them to parent adult children and manage family resources with new goals. The last child leaving home also affects adult children. The impact of this family event on the health of the family and on individual family members is determined by the extent to which positive features of family life are carried forward; undermining characteristics of relating are ...

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