Life After Children: Changes That Happen When Children Move Out

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  • 0:01 After Children
  • 0:52 Positive Changes
  • 3:14 Negative Changes
  • 4:44 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Devin Kowalczyk

Devin has taught psychology and has a master's degree in clinical forensic psychology. He is working on his PhD.

In this lesson, we will look at what changes occur to a parent after their dependent children move out. Included in this are the positive and negative changes that occur.

After Children

With a title like 'After Children,' you would think some sort of cataclysmic event had happened. And to be honest, it is a life-changing event. Is it as big as the moon colliding with the ocean to create a super tsunami that wipes out all the rainforests and causes runaway global warming? No, not that much, but it can feel like that to parents who are going through the process of their kids leaving home.

After the children move out, it is a time of change. Parents suddenly find time for themselves after 18 or more years of managing someone else. It's a bit of a shocker and can lead to some changes, not to mention some heavy emotions. Let's divide these up into two simple categories - the good changes and the bad changes.

Positive Changes

Raising a child to the age of 18 or later takes a lot of work. That is years and years of focusing on your kid to make sure they turn out all right. This can take a dramatic toll on many aspects of the parent's life. After the job of raising a child is over, though, parents can focus on what is important to them. This is a broad category, so let's look at a few things that a parent can focus on once the kids are gone.

Careers can be reestablished after the kids move out. Now a parent no longer needs to feel guilty about taking professional trips or choosing to work late instead of being home with the kids. Or a parent can go back to school and obtain a higher degree to move further in his or her career. The sky is now the limit when it comes to where and how the parent's career will evolve because there is no longer that feeling of being limited in some way by needing to take care of the kids.

Travel plans can be realized. Traveling with kids is expensive. Think about it, you have to pay for their meals - even if they don't eat them, pay for their plane tickets and their luggage and cover all those associated costs, like admission tickets and extra lodging fees. And that's not even considering the effort it takes to manage kids when you're traveling. They always want to go and do something else when you'd rather go to a museum or sightseeing or just relax at a nice café, or they get cranky and misbehave. Without the kids, adults have a lot more options open to them, like adult getaways or going somewhere the kids wouldn't like.

Probably one of the most important changes that can occur after the children leave is reconnecting romantically. Children become the central focus of a relationship. Their needs and demands come first. This means issues are put on the back burner, or worse, the children are used as an excuse to avoid handling serious issues.

When the children leave, there is no longer a distraction. There is no longer the excuse of 'for the children.' Now the relationship becomes the focus, and it is either strengthened with a renewed interest in each other, or it fragments and the two people realize that they have grown apart and are no longer interested in each other. Both of these are positive changes because the adults now can live their lives more fully.

Negative Changes

Not every change is good, though. As the last example sort of looked at, there can be some changes that aren't so great.

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