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October 18, 2021

Empty-nest syndrome may be a thing of the past

Once that last child is gone, parents often struggle with a profound sense of loss, not just because they miss the kids, but because their very identities have been significantly impacted, suggests psychologist Guy Winch.

But, rather than haunting their children's now uninhabited rooms, empty nesters are enjoying better social lives, traveling more frequently and have more financial freedom, a recent survey suggests.

As a whole, nine out of 10 empty nesters — defined as those whose children have permanently moved out of the home — indicated they're happy and look forward to more social and personal time now that the kids are gone. 

So much for the proverbial empty-nest syndrome. Other recent research indicates that, once that early sense of loneliness passes, parents tend to adjust quite nicely to a child-free household.

Rather than pining for soccer practice, empty nesters said they enjoy having more personal time (95%); lower grocery bills (91%); spending more time with their significant other or dating (85%); socializing with friends (80%); and no longer attending school-related functions (68%).

And they'd like this to be a permanent arrangement, it seems.

Sixty-eight per cent said they'd rather lend their child financial support than have him move back home.

Even though 50% maintain they're still saving something for their children and grandchildren, they're no longer budgeting for specific kid-related expenses.

So much so that 70% have already turned their child’s room into another room for personal use — 34% as a guest room; 14% as an office; and 4% as a media room.

Seventy-eight percent are saving for a trip of a lifetime; 38% are saving for a sports car, boat or other recreational vehicle; and 21% are considering buying a second/vacation home.

What's not to like?

How are you faring financially now that the kids have left home? Or do you have trouble seeing that ever happening?

By Gordon Powers, MSN Money



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...