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14 Quotes for Empty Nesters

Every phase of life comes with highs and lows, and for parents whose children are reaching adulthood and leaving home, the transition can feel abrupt and lonely, almost like experiencing a loss. But even though becoming an “empty nester” can feel like an entire identity shift — especially for parents whose lives largely revolved around their children — there is much to look forward to in this new season of life.

For one, you’ll always be a parent, regardless of how your role might shift over time. And though you’re likely to miss your children when they leave the nest, the extra distance can present a great opportunity to reinvent yourself after years of having to put others’ needs before your own. Change can be scary and uncomfortable, but ultimately, a big part of watching your children grow up and set out on their own is remembering that change is also inevitable, and even healthy.

It’s natural to feel a range of emotions during this transition — relief, worry, sadness, existential uncertainty — and it’s important to let those feelings take up the space they need to as you begin to envision your next chapter. Because, as these 16 quotes can attest, an empty nest also means having more time to plan fun activities, invest in yourself, and tap into other sources of joy. That’s the beauty of aging and the passage of time: Things do come full circle, and letting your children go can help you to hold more tightly to yourself, and who you want to become.

Our job as parents is to teach our kids not to need us. And it hurts, but when you see them as accomplished, confident, kind, thoughtful, responsible people, then you know you’ve done your job.
Barack Obama

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Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving.
Albert Einstein

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You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.
Les Brown, motivational speaker

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The afternoon of life is just as full of meaning as the morning; only, its meaning and purpose are different.
Carl Jung

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It doesn’t matter how old you are or what you do in your life. You never stop needing your mom.
Kate Winslet

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A wise parent humors the desire for independent action, so as to become the friend and advisor when his absolute rule shall cease.
Elizabeth Gaskell, novelist

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It’s not only children who grow. Parents do, too. As much as we watch to see what our children do with their lives, they are watching us to see what we do with ours.
Joyce Maynard, novelist

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Letting go does not mean not caring about things. It means caring about them in a flexible and wise way.
Jack Kornfield, writer

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As a parent, you quickly realize that life is one long series of letting go: watching your kid crawl, then walk, then run, and then drive away.
Deborah Mitchell, writer

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Sometimes love means letting go when you want to hold on tighter.
Melissa Marr, author

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Letting go helps us to live in a more peaceful state of mind and helps restore our balance. It allows others to be responsible for themselves and for us to take our hands off situations that do not belong to us.
Melody Beattie, author

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Adolescence is perhaps nature’s way of preparing parents to welcome the empty nest.
Karen Savage and Patricia Adams, authors

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You see much more of your children after they leave home.
Lucille Ball

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Your child’s life will be filled with fresh experiences. It’s good if yours is as well.
Margaret Rutherford, psychologist

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Featured image credit: Scott Olson/ Getty Images News via Getty images

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About the Author
Joyce Chen
Joyce Chen is a writer, editor, and community builder based in Seattle, Washington.
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