Parenting advice seems to come from countless places these days. However, few have ever asked the real parenting experts, empty nest parents, what they think…until now. Dr. David Schramm (USU Extension) surveyed more than 400 empty nest parents across the United States, asking them to look back on their parenting now that their children have launched, and they offered their advice and even some regrets.
Relationship building was described as parents’ most important, and most rewarding job. In 84% of the parents’ responses, they mentioned the importance of strengthening the relationship with their children as a necessary foundation. Communicating, spending quality time, being involved in their lives and their schooling, and loving children unconditionally was some of the most consistent advice across all stages of parenting.Birth to 5 years – this advice included enjoying the moment (it goes too fast), engaging in active play, reading with children, and developing patience.
- Ages 6 to 11 years –advice included encouraging and praising children regularly and allowing them to explore interests that will promote positive identity development.
- Ages 12 to 18 years – this advice included listening more than talking, setting clear boundaries for behavior, allowing children to make and learn from mistakes, being a parent, not a friend, and balancing freedom with protection.
- Teaching-focused advice. Empty nesters encouraged parents to teach important life skills to their children such as reading, life-long learning, and responsibility, along with values and a strong work ethic.
- Correction-focused advice. Empty nest parents also advised parents to be consistent in their routines, disciplinary practices, and helping children to learn from mistakes while maintaining a strong relationship with them.
Looking back, 45% of empty nest parents feel that parenting was “more” or “much more difficult” than they expected. Only 3% rated themselves as an “excellent parent.”
- While a few parents regretted being too lenient, there were far more who regretted being too harsh and impatient.
- Some parents wished they would have done more teaching, such as how to cook basic meals, do household chores, wash clothes and how to manage anxiety and stress.
- Others regretted not doing enough to build the parent-child relationship, wishing they would have been less busy, attended activities, listened more, more trips together, and allowing themselves to have more fun with their children.
For more go to healthyrelationshipsutah.org