While it might seem like once the kids are finally out of the nest and on their own you can finally sit back and relax but that’s not usually the case. As a mother or father you’re still going to worry and to be honest, would you have it any other way?
Parenting is not something that we just stop doing, while our kids do grow up and become adults, we still feel like we need to take care of them and protect them when it really counts and there is nothing we can do about that. While you’re probably already aware, it seems most parents still keep themselves up at night worrying about their offspring. Just because your kids are ‘grown’ doesn’t mean you love or care about them any less than you did when they were small.
A study from a few years ago actually went over this whole concept quite deeply. You see, while fathers and mothers stay up over different reasons they all tend to relate to their children. This study was published in the journal The Gerontologist and because of how important families are in this world better understanding the dynamic change as we grow is crucial for progression.
Lead author for the study noted above actually spoke with CBS News and told them as follows in regards:
“I feel that many share this value, yet I think much of the socialization in our culture focuses on family when children are younger,”
“I seek to study topics that help us understand how family continues to be a central part of our lives throughout adulthood, and I encourage considering family-level influences in all situations.”
You see within this study it was found that giving support itself affected fathers while stress over the support was what affected the mothers. Sleep impairment was much higher overall in women and considering we usually maintain high involvement with our parents when we move out, this is to be expected. Participants actually noted that they averaged about six hours of sleep per night which is in many ways, not enough.
While some of us find it stressful to help our adult children, we usually do without question. This study covered close to 200 people who were heterosexual married couples and each had at least 2 adult children. This in many ways could have a lot to do with something many refer to as sheltering. If we shelter our kids too much as they grow we will worry more once they are on their own.
That all having been said, there are tons of ways to cope and properly face this kind of thing. You should not be allowing yourself to lose sleep over your kids especially when they are no longer living in your household. Sure, worrying is normal and you can’t just turn that off but you have to trust in your abilities as a parent and let these young adults live their lives.
While more research will be done in the future it is interesting to know that my mother isn’t the only one losing sleep over her kids. As a parent you have to be willing to take care of yourself too, this includes getting enough sleep. If your health is declining because you’re spending all your time stressing over whether your son or daughter has what he/she needs or is safe, you need to rethink things. Even as a good parent, you can only do so much.
We already don’t get enough sleep while caring for our kids when they’re still kids. Once they’re finally on their own you should take that time to work on self-care. You deserve it, you’ve done all you could and in the end, you have to be willing to let them make their own mistakes.