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    WhatsAppers
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    Hi! Can u give me chizuk. BH, my children are older..some are married, some single BH. But, I feel very lonely & irrelevant. My kids feel like they are older..young adults..they want to make their own decisions..they want their space.. Can u please give me advice on how to transition from care giver to bystander? That’s very tough. I’m having a hard time. I feel like ai lost my sense of identity & purpose. I feel very sad & disconnected. I think this is called midlife crisis. What advice does the Torah give? How can I continue to feel relevant? I feel like my lifeline has been cut off..

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    WhatsAppers
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    You sound like a most amazing mom! Just from your brief sharing it’s obvious that you are a loving and devoted parent. Notice the present tense- are! You are and can continue to be that wonderful mother you are!
    Additionally, the fact that your children feel emotionally ready to make decisions independently emphasizes the great work you’ve done raising them. Of course that doesn’t mean they’re necessarily making the “right” decisions or ones that you believe are right. Just that they have the inner strength to believe they can make decisions independently is great work on your part!
    So… here goes!

    Remind yourself that you are and will continue to be your children’s “care giver” and never a “bystander”! Only with some modifications. Sort of like wearing a mom hat in a different style. One that looks something like-
    More listening and less talking

    More acknowledging them as mature adults and less challenging their adulthood

    More accepting of differences in thought and action and less criticizing those differences

    More suggesting and less demanding

    On a similar note-
    Here’s a wonderful opportunity to teach your children new skills through your own modeling of this new relationship dynamic –
    that of respecting differences of thoughts and actions in a most kind loving mature manner, and thereby creating deeper connection in the mother/child relationship.
    Best of luck.

    This response was contributed by Rachel Brezel, LMHC.

    Rachel Brezel

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    WhatsAppers
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    Such a great question and you’re so not alone in this struggle. There’s a reason there’s even a term for this experience – it’s called empty nest and some even call it a syndrome!

    This time is a transition. Try to recall when you had your first child and everything felt so unsettling and overwhelming and then each time a child was added to the bunch how you were once again being asked to acclimate to a new kind of phase in life. This transition is just like that. It will take time but you will acclimate. Be patient and love yourself from this moment on.

    I also just want to address the two points you shared.

    1. Loneliness and 2. Irrelevance

    So first for the loneliness. Being alone is not a bad thing. As children we’re taught that being alone is bad as we are sent to the corner when punished. However, as adults it’s important for us to reframe this experience. Having time for yourself by yourself is so wonderful. Listen to your thoughts and tune into to YOUR needs and desires and spend time fullfiling them. Read that book. Take that course. Meditate. Space out. Cook. Bake. Write. Try to reframe being with yourself and in a state of less distraction as something beautiful precious and positive. Not something you need to run away from. If you find alone time so intolerable it’s a good topic to work thru in personal therapy. Of course, you can and will spend time with others but if you love spending time alone and can tolerate the feelings of alone-ness it will be so much more enjoyable to be alone and still satisfying when you do have the opportunity to be with others.

    Now for the irrelevance. This is a negative belief that you are choosing to believe. Instead of believing it – challenge it. Are you truly irrelevant to yourself to others or even just to that child? Try to find ways to dispute that belief based on reality. How many people want to hear from you? In Which ways do you remain relevant to yourself and others? Are you growing as a person? If yes, you are relevant to yourself and that is the most important person to stay relevant too!

    So bottom line:
    Inspire yourself.
    Love yourself.
    Be patient and gentle with yourself.

    And you will see the rest will fall into place before you know it!

    – Anonymous WhatsApper

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    WhatsAppers
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    Hi, I’m only 19 and still living at home and from the children’s perspective it can be better off to let them be alone and give them their own space. I want from my parents to let me be and it’s better off when their not involved in my life. If they were to constantly be involved it would make me further run from them and push them away…
    Sometimes the less you push( trying to be more involved) will be better in the long run.

    – Anonymous WhatsApper

     

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    WhatsAppers
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    I’m only 17 but what I feel is that she should feel a tremendous amount of nachas because of the wonderful children she brought up who I’m sure are awesome!! And if not for her they may not have the guts to make there own choices, as of what happened when she’s the bystanders I’m not sure but I want her to know that her children are who they are and where they’re at BECAUSE of her

    – Anonymous WhatsApper

     

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    WhatsAppers
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    Your feelings are common and part of the parenting cycle we all go through. You’ve found purpose and meaning through putting your heart and soul into raising your kids. It might help to remember that they are not rejecting you, even though it feels like it. You want your kids to develop into healthy adults and that process starts in adolescence when they form their own identity by separating from your. Remember, this is normal and healthy.
    Take time to develop some of your own interests now. And guess what? By doing this you’ll be enhancing your own life and will also be a positive role model for your kids. You’d be surprised what kids sense and notice about their parents.

    This response was contributed by Michelle Halle, LCSW.

    Michelle Halle

     

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    WhatsAppers
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    Oh my now is a very important time of your and your kids’ life!!

    I sometimes visit older friends just to see firsthand how healthy boundaries are respected!

    Please utilize your unique opportunity of a lifetime, and be the model I would want to visit often!!!

    ?

    – Anonymous WhatsApper

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    WhatsAppers
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    It’s a very tough transition. Get a job that you love, get involved in organizations that will appreciate your help and get a therapist that’ll help you navigate the transition. From someone still in the process….

    – Anonymous WhatsApper

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    WhatsAppers
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    I think that she/ he should place they put themselves in their shoes for a minute, and think about when they were their age. It will be hard, but in the end it will be better for her/him to let their kids grow up

    – Anonymous WhatsApper

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    WhatsAppers
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    find things to do that make you feel fulfilled ?

    – Anonymous WhatsApper

    Hi,

    It can be so destabilizing when we reach this stage and as you say, our identities, our life goals, and our purposes are called into question.  Just like being perimenopausal, when women are in a transitional state between their childbearing years and menopause, this stage is the transitional stage between child rearing years and complete empty nesting.

    There are a number of ways we can view this transitional period:

    A – First recognize that this is a transitional period and be kind and gentle to yourself while you learn the ropes of this new stage.

    B – Redefine what it means to be a parent in this stage.  No matter the age (and this includes our adult children) we always are parents to our children.  And just like we adjust our roles from when they are infants to when they become toddlers, from when they are young children to when they became adolescents, we adjust our roles during this time too.  Think about what they want and need from you, and see if that is a role that is healthy for you to serve and if that role works for you.

    C – Explore.  This transitional time is also about getting reacquainted with yourself.  Develop new hobbies, tap into old ones, try new activities and experiences.  Even in a virtual, pandemic world, there are so many online classes in the areas of art, music,  food, movement, learning, and more that we can take advantage of.  And, the thing about pursuing our own interests is that the process makes us more interesting, as the more diverse inputs we have, the more we have what to share with others.  This is a bonus benefit of developing and expanding parts of ourselves that we may not have had the time to do during our child rearing years.

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