25 Years of Parenting and All I Get is this Empty Room

25 Years of Parenting and All I Get is this Empty Room

25 Years of Parenting and All I Get is this Empty Room . . .

My youngest daughter just moved out of the house.  Gone.  Just like that.  As her first year of college closed out this May, she decided to take up residency with her boyfriend.  He’s a peaceful young man.  I like him.  So does my wife.  More importantly, my daughter likes him more than I know.

Their “palace” is a bedroom and bath in a shared apartment in South San Clemente.  It’s a short walk or bike ride to the beach, which is nice since they both love the ocean.  The summer sunsets will be amazing.  Hand-in-hand, they will walk bare-foot along the beach just like my wife and I have done for years.

As I helped them take out her dresser from the room (the final piece of furniture to leave our home) I noticed how empty this once busy and cluttered space had become.  The closet that was once filled with her clothes, clothes that I laundered for 25 years, was now filled with my business suits, casual shirts and coats.

The walls that once were home to her funky artwork and posters and her cork board pinned with articles and photos and to-do lists are now bare…almost quiet.

I placed the guitars that I play daily in the room.  The solitary chair I sit on seems so small and lonely in the place where her exotic Tiger-eye bamboo bunk bed once stood so tall.

You can actually see the floor now; and step wherever you like without dancing around the clothes and books and laptop and all the other things that most teenagers and young adults leave mindlessly out of place as they busy themselves in their lives.

Now, as I look into this room, which is no longer my daughter’s bedroom, I smile, knowing that this empty place is now my confirmation; I have succeeded as a father.

How did I succeed?  Well, my definition of success might differ from other parent’s definitions.  But this is why I feel I succeeded:

  • Independence.  My daughter has fully embraced her independence.  She is secure in herself, knowing that this is the first part of her life’s journey now that she is gone from the house of her father.
  • Confidence.  She was crystal clear on with her decision to move out on her own with her boyfriend.  She was bold and thoughtful as she explained to me why it was the right decision for her to make, even though I told her that I wasn’t in total agreement with her decision.
  • Respect.  My daughter greatly appreciated the fact that I respected her decision and her adulthood.  It would have been easy for me to suffocate her with my opinions; burden her with a misplaced guilt; bribe her to stay home with promises of money and possessions or actually attempt to forbid her to move out.
  • Love.  There wasn’t any change in the love that we share.  My daughter actually feels more secure in our love because it isn’t tied to any unwanted or unrealistic expectations that would minimize her journey’s growth.

I am happy that my daughter moved out.  She knows I’ll always be there for her in times of crisis and need.  She knows I’ll always be there to share ideas and talk about the future that stands before her.  She knows that I’ll always be there to hold her hand and kiss her face when she needs her father’s love and support.

She knows that I’ll always be there…ALWAYS!

So . . .

Are you an “Empty Nester?”

How do/did you feel when your last child moved away from home?

How has your relationship with your child changed?

– Chris

Molly Keating
Molly Keating
Molly grew up in and around funeral homes her entire life. In 2009 she began working for O'Connor Mortuary and found a bridge between her passion for writing and her interest in grief and bereavement. In 2016 she earned Certification in the field of Thanatology, the study of Death, Dying and Bereavement. She is honored to be able to write about these taboo topics with knowledge, compassion, and a unique perspective.


  1. Lori Bristol says:

    You make me smile.

  2. Carrie Bayer says:

    Chris, though I am not an Empty Nester nor will I ever be, I love learning your perspective on your daughter spreading her wings and flying away. Our chats on this subject over the years have been heartfelt & it’s amazing that the time has arrived. Thank you for sharing this deeply personal moment of your life! XOXO Carrie

    • Yeah, but you have all of those reptiles and pets. You are far braver than I because I know how many of those critters you have and how much they mean to you. Loving and missing is loving and missing; regardless of the species. Peace Always!

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