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Family Life Cycle - Empty Nest: Launching Adult Children

The stage of launching adult children begins when your first child leaves home and ends with the "empty nest." When older children leave home, there are both positive and negative consequences. If your family has developed significant skills through the family life cycle, your children will be ready to leave home, ready to handle life's challenges. Free from the everyday demands of parenting, you may choose to rekindle your own relationship and possibly your career goals.

Developing adult relationships with your children is a key skill in this stage. You may be challenged to accept new members into your family through your children's relationships. You may focus on reprioritizing your life, forgiving those who have wronged you (maybe long ago), and assessing your beliefs about life.

If you struggled with previous life phases, your children may not have learned from you all the skills they need to live well on their own. If you and your partner have not transitioned together, you may no longer feel compatible with each other. But remember that you can still gain the skills you may have missed. Self-examination, education, and counseling can enhance your life and help ensure a healthy transition to the next phase.

This is a time when your health and energy levels may decline. Some people are diagnosed with chronic illnesses. Symptoms of these diseases can limit normal activities and even long-enjoyed pastimes. Health issues related to midlife may begin to occur and can include:

You may also be caring for aging parents in this phase, which can be stressful and affect your own health.

Specific goals to reach at this stage include:

  • Refocusing on your relationship without children.
  • Developing adult relationships with your grown children.
  • Realigning relationships to include in-laws and grandchildren when your children begin their own families.

    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: November 14, 2014
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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