A mother goes into her son’s bedroom to sniff his T-shirt shortly after he leaves for college for the first time...

A mother goes into her son’s bedroom to sniff his T-shirt shortly after he leaves for college for the first time. On a website (http://www.netdoctor.co.uk/womwnshealth/features/ens.htm) that recounts her unusual behavior, we learn that it’s a perfectly normal expression of the “empty nest syndrome”, a term referring to the popular belief that most women feel disturbing pangs of depression when their children leave home or get married. The popular “Chicken Soup for the Soul” self-help series even features a book devoted entirely to helping “empty nesters” adapt to the stress of their transition (Canfield, Hansen, McAdoo, & Evans, 2008).

Actually, there’s scant scientific support for the popular belief that women experience the female equivalent of the male midlife crisis when their children fly the coop, leaving the proverbial nest empty. Christine Proulx and Heather Helms (2008) interviewed 142 sets of parents after their firstborn children left home. Most parents (both men and women) made an excellent adjustment, felt the move was positive, and related more to their children as peers when they achieved greater independence. Moreover, most empty nesters actually experience an increase in life satisfaction following their newfound flexibility and freedom (Black & Hill, 1984). Recent evidence tracking marital relationships over an 18-year period points to an increase in marital satisfaction too (Gorchoff, John, & Helson, 2008).

A shift in household roles, and a sudden increase in free time, can require some adjustment for all family members. People who define themselves largely in terms of their role as parents, hold traditional attitudes toward women’s roles in society and the family, and aren’t employed outside the home may be particularly vulnerable to empty nest syndrome (Harkins, 1978). But a child “moving on” isn’t typically a devastating experience for parents, as it’s often portrayed in the media (Walsh, 1999). In fact, as children make a successful transition to young adulthood, and parents reap the rewards of many years of dedicated work raising their children, it can be an occasion for celebration.


Fuente: 50 Great Myths of Popular Psychology. Scott O.Lilienfeld and Others. Wiley-Blackwell.England.2010.


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