Brasilmagic\’s Weblog

Venting to the World

When your kids go away

There are some advantages on becoming an empty nester: you have more time for yourself, you can dedicate yourself to causes and new hobbies, you have less dishes to do, less garbage, less mess in your house and you can travel during the off-season, with cheaper fares and hotel deals. Sure, you miss your children, but when they come home it’s always a joy. On the kids’ side, they get to become much more independant, responsible and less spoiled.

So what’s the downside?

The downside is the loss of the sense of family very early in the short time you have with them, before they become full adults with spouses, jobs and kids of their own. Additionally, in America, kids sometimes go to Colleges away from home, in another State and sometimes on a different coast.  Many after graduating do not come to their original area, and end up marrying locals or finding jobs near where they went to school.

The consequences are deep and affect the  bonding and cohesion of a family, and what will become an extended family. Brazilians often criticize Americans for seeing little of their children and how kids seldom visit or call their parents (“only at Thanksgiving and during the holidays”).  The truth is that when kids leave their parents’ home at 17, the bond does get less strong over time, and they get used to being on their own, which is good and bad.

With the high divorce rates, many parents do not have the original family structure and lifestyle to accomodate grown kids and a new boyfriend/girlfriend, and seeing the kids go away to College provides them with the necessary freedom and privacy to start their new lives. Children in that situation lose their primary family which probably pushes them even more to become independant.

Young women and men in Brazil only leave their parents’s home when they get married. It is odd for me now to see 30-somethings living with their parents. One of the main reasons is how expensive apartments are for someone who is starting their professional life. The advantage is that adult kids can care for their parents when there is a need.

My adult kids are in College and Grad school. They often visit, which is wonderful, but I know they might never live with me again. I have told them that I would prefer them to live within driving distance from me. No California please, no matter how nice it out there!

I left my parent’s house at 23 and went far, far away. I spent my whole life missing being with my family during holidays, birthdays and celebrations. I’d call my parents and hear the happy chatter in the background while I was alone with my husband during those occasions and feel some sadness. My children grew up without having grandparents around, and of course the bond between them is not as strong. I also grew up far away from my own grandparents, and when they died, I did not feel an intense sadness. They were people I saw every now and then.

We should prioritize family. There are too many lonely people out there.

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January 22, 2010 - Posted by | Being a mother, Difference between cultures, Family

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