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Empty Nesters In A Digital Age

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There comes a time in every parent’s life when their child will have to leave home, leaving behind an empty nest. And after spending at least 18 years with children at home, it can often be difficult for empty nesters to adjust. However, it’s now much easier to stay connected to loved ones, and parents can use technology to keep in touch with their newly independent children. To discover how these parents keep in touch with their children and how it impacts their relationships, Home Life Digest surveyed over 1,000 empty nesters and their children.

While parents can video call their children, only 12% of empty nesters cited video calls as their main form of communication. The most common method was text messaging, with 41.2% of empty nesters texting their children. When it came for children to contact their parents, over half (56.2%) stuck to the classic phone call.

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For empty nesters who want to feel connected to their children, despite the distance and numerous changes, what is the best form of communication? Parents who Snapchatted their children reported feeling the most connected, while those who texted felt the most lonely. Children of these parents who used Snapchat also felt the most connected.

It can often be emotional when parents become empty nesters. In fact, Home Life Digest found that nearly 83% of parents had a difficult time emotionally adjusting when their child moved out, compared to only half of children. However, the study found that parents and children who called and texted were more likely to have an easier time emotionally adjusting than those who video called or used social media to keep in contact.

Many parents have communication rules when their children are under their roof, but what happens when their children move out? Almost 45% of empty nesters established communication expectations with their children. But the more children an empty nester had, the less likely they were to have communication expectations. Fifty-two percent of empty nesters with one child had expectations, while less than 30% of empty nesters with three or more children had expectations.

Expectations or not, how often should these parents contact their children? Fifty-three percent said they contacted their children a couple of times per week, with nearly 24% contacting their children every day. Meanwhile, 61% of children of the parents reported that their parents contacted them just enough, while 19% felt they were contacted too frequently.

One mother said, “Call every other week or when something really good or really bad happens, or you need help,” while a child of an empty nester said, “[I] call or text at least two times a week to let my parents know what’s up.” For empty nesters and children of these parents, it’s all about communication to help adjust and stay connected. Whether you text each other every day or have a phone call once a week, just be sure to keep communicating.

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