Posted by: Garfield | 2006/10/24

Empty Nest for my Mom - please help!!!!!

Hi CS & Readers

I am hoping that somone can help me to help my Mom. She is only 50 and has raised 4 children, the youngest of which is off to varsity (live out) next year.

She is an EXTREMELY capable and intelligent woman and made the CHOICE to stay at home with all of us as she felt that is what is important. I can never repay her enough for doing that and am extremely grateful that she has always made all of us (children and husband) her first priority.

Now however, she is faced with a couple of dilemmas - first off, what to do, but more a case of finding out what will make her happy. Would an occupational psychologist be able to help with what directions to point her in? And, more importantly, I feel, (as her daughter and friend) that she needs to learn how to put her own needs first again. Anyone have any wise words to offer or been in simliar situations themselves?

She has had a few successful businesses in the not-so-faraway past when financial reasons have called for her to do so, so she really is extremely capable and bright. (In fact, I think if she had not had kids that she would be something amazingly successful in corporate terms).

I have suggested a couple of months early next year travelling to friends and family around the world ... a sort of a "gap year" but not for so long, so that she can re-orientate herself with true self ... what she really likes and what she would really like to do, as she has spent such a long time orientating herself around anyone else's needs. Only then do I think she should look into actually doing something?

Any advice/words of wisdom appreciated. CS - not sure if this is your area of expertise, but you always seem to have such wise and compassionate, yet practical advice to give, so would love to hear any regarding this if you have!

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Our expert says:
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No, NOT an Occupational Therapist, a group which seems consistently over-valued round here. Some psychologists specialize indoing tests which match your interests with your skills and talents, and can give good vocational guidance, which is not what Occupational Therapists do. The gap years sounds like a good idea, too. Meeting new people, and talking with them, will help her to think of what she might not otherwise have considered. Your discussion seesm to assume that she doesn't have any strong ideas herself, as to what she would like to do. Of course, she'd also be welcome in the forum as a resident Uber-Mum, to advise others based on her experience !

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Our users say:
Posted by: Garfield | 2006/10/25

Thanks for the advice everyone - I appreciate it

Reply to Garfield
Posted by: Busy Bee | 2006/10/24

Dear Garfield,

Your mom is lucky to have someone so caring as you, to take the time to post here and concerned over her future and wellbeing.

Where about do you live? I know that Lifeline East Rand is having a Personal Growth Course soon, in fact 7th November they are having an introduction evening to their PGC.

I am sure if she attended something like that, she would meet other people and also begin a different journey in her life, to discover just where her future will take her. She does not have to attend the counselling course, but of course once she has completed the PGC, she will qualify to complete the Counselling Course and qualify as a lay counsellor. I must tell you its the most rewarding thing I have done in a few years. I am not quite the empty nester yet, as I still have a son at home but am around the age of your mom, I am 52 yrs young. I go to gym every day and find there is not enough hours in the day to pursue all that I want to.

Your mom, after all these years caring for a family and 4 children, will find herself perhaps at a loose end, but am sure if she will find so many different exciting avenues to explore. Its a matter of discovering herself and her new found *freedom* in a way. I full agree with Chelle. Its *her* time now and she needs to *reconnect* with who she is, giving back to herself, so to speak.

Reply to Busy Bee
Posted by: Chelle | 2006/10/24

Hi Garfield

You haven't really commented on how your mom is embracing this whole idea. Is she eager, fearful, excited, or not particularly concerned?

It sounds as though she put many of her own aspirations, and feelings aside for the family, and this has caused her to lose touch with what she really likes. Although things do change, perhaps she needs to think about what it was she dreamed of doing when she was younger. Does she feel any excitement when she thinks back about her dreams, or have they changed completely?

I always believe that the best thing to do though, is not to think or plan too much - but to just go ahead and try out a multitude of things. Something will grab you eventually and help you feel fulfilled.

Does she want to start a career, or is she looking for hobbies to pursue, or does she feel she needs a lifestyle change? There are so many possibilities - but most importantly, she needs to see this a new exciting time ahead of her. HER time! And I'm sure, her being the person you say she is, she will flourish in no time at all.

Reply to Chelle

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