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Empty Nest

  • By: Linda R. Ennis
  • In: Encyclopedia of Motherhood
  • Edited by: Andrea O'Reilly
  • Subject:Sociology of Gender, Parenting, Maternal Health

The term empty nest refers primarily to a feeling of loneliness, depression, sadness, and grief that parents, especially mothers, feel when one or more of their children leave the childhood home, either temporarily or permanently. This feeling may result in a loss of purpose and crisis of identity for the parents, especially the mother.

The Separation-Individuation Process

The clinical definition of separation and individuation is the emotional ability to form one's own sense of self, with one's own opinions, thoughts, and feelings, and to keep emotional boundaries in relationships. The separation part of the process indicates that an individual needs to experience himself/herself as distinct from his/her parent. A problem sets in when the mother has not successfully completed her own separation process from her mother. This ...

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