Many of us who are married experience the great gift and blessing of becoming parents. When we are parents, we have the opportunity to help, prepare, and educate your children as they grow and become ready for their own lives. As a parent, you also bear a significant responsibility of exposing and educating them in the faith, provide values, guide them, teach them, comfort them, and ensure they are ready to face the complexities of life.
The Bible describes our responsibilities as parents in many parts, and below are some of the ones I consider most relevant:
- Proverbs 22:6; “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”
- Ephesians 6:4; “Parents, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.”
- Deuteronomy 11:19; in speaking about the Word of God: “Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”
- Colossians 3:21; “Parents do not provoke your children to anger, or they will become discouraged.”
- Proverbs 13:24; “Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the ones who love their children are careful to discipline them.”
The journey of life as we see our children grow is a beautiful and rewarding experience. When they are ready to fly, we feel enormous emotion, satisfaction and pride.
Yet, are we prepared as a married couple to see them fly? Have we as partners done enough to be prepared for when they initiate their own lives? Are we ready to start our life together without our children? Are we prepared to continue our life as is when they leave?
There is the famous phrase of “empty nest,” which is defined as a household consisting of only a parent or parents whose children have grown and left home. There is also the concept of empty nest syndrome, which is a term used to describe the distressing response that some parents experience when their last adult child leaves home permanently. Some of the reactions might include sadness, depression, irritability, anger, resentment, anxiety, guilt, and loneliness; however, many times these emotions are expressed erroneously against your spouse. Going through the “empty-nest” process is something that most couples with children will experience, but the key is how to go about it and ensure that we are prepared for it.
In our society, there are many couples that struggle and suffer when their children leave. Many of them end up divorcing as some of their differences are irreconcilable. How can you avoid that? Some key manners in which to ensure you are prepared for this is by working on your relationship early on, recognizing that the most important person in the family is your spouse, having open communication and ensuring that you spend quality time together. You need to work on your marriage constantly through life, not only when your children are ready to leave. We recognize that educating kids is both time consuming and very demanding, but you should never forget that while doing so, you need a partner by your side in whom you trust, someone that understands , backs you up, and with whom you will grow together over time.
Everyone will experience different stages in their marriage. One way of preparing for these stages is to build a solid foundation with your partner that allows space for support and unwavering love when the stage where your children fly the “empty-nest” arrives.
I’ve been married to Martha for 28 years and we have four children – three who have already fled. Our youngest, who has special-needs, will stay with us throughout his life. We initiated our empty-nest process four years ago; fortunately enough, we were able to build a solid base in our relationship prior to the departure of our children. However, we still continue to adapt to our new reality and have had to change patterns, maintain open and honest communications, adapt roles, and increase our prayer. Today, we very much enjoy our time together, and are thankful that we did prepare for this stage in our lives.
Have you prepared to experience seeing your children fly? It’s is never too late to start!
Genaro Poulat was born into a Catholic family in Mexico City where he lived for the early part of his life. He lives now in Key Biscayne, Florida with his wife Martha, to whom he has been married for 26 years. He has been blessed and fortunate to have 4 kids: Genaro, Daniela, Bernardo and Andres. Over the past 26 years he has lived in Edinburgh, Mexico, New York, Panama and Florida.
Genaro is an International Banker and he has worked in the sector for 28 years. Over the past five years, together with his wife Martha, he has been dedicated to supporting married couples and helping them to get closer to God. Genaro is an active volunteer in his Church and supports many ministries.