Empty Nest Syndrome
First introduced in 1914 by writer Dorothy Canfield, the concept of “empty nest syndrome” was clinically identified and popularized in the 1970s as a group of symptoms including depression, loneliness, and low self‐esteem, found among mothers whose last child had recently moved out of the family home. A great deal of sociological research since then has sought to find out how the “empty nest” relates to mothers’ (and to a lesser extent fathers') well‐being, and how other circumstances such as being employed outside the home may influence the experience.
The term “empty nest” evokes different images depending on whether one is a sociologist, psychologist, therapist, parent, or even a realtor or travel agent. For sociologists, the “empty nest” is a household composed of adults whose children have moved out, but who have not yet reached old age themselves. Several trends have contributed to the emergence of this household type in the United States in the last 50 years, including greater...
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