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37 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Packed you bags? Good. Now go!
As a parent who actually raised kids in a real nest, I can identify better than most with the empty nest syndrome, that feeling of emptiness and loss when the kids finally leave to set up their own nests, or homes.

We all know it's coming. From the day they're hatched, or born, we know that our job is to prepare them to face the world on their own, and our...
Published on May 10, 2007 by viktor_57

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The yuppie empty nest
This collection contains many beautifully written essays, but the publisher's claim that it represents a variety of circumstances is borderline ridiculous. Although we do get one parent whose child joined the military and one (the most moving) whose schizophrenic son has died, these are mostly the stores of extremely well-off parents whose bright children are going on to...
Published 14 months ago by Just another reader


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37 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Packed you bags? Good. Now go!, May 10, 2007
By 
viktor_57 "viktor_57" (Fairview, Your Favorite State, USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Empty Nest: 31 Parents Tell the Truth About Relationships, Love and Freedom After the Kids Fly the Coop (Hardcover)
As a parent who actually raised kids in a real nest, I can identify better than most with the empty nest syndrome, that feeling of emptiness and loss when the kids finally leave to set up their own nests, or homes.

We all know it's coming. From the day they're hatched, or born, we know that our job is to prepare them to face the world on their own, and our lives end up taking a back seat to theirs. So when that day comes, whether they're going off to school, or war, or prison, or moving out, or becoming transcendental beings of pure energy, we feel a seething mix of conflicted emotions, including joy and sadness; relief and worry; pride and loss; gumption and envy; and indifference and mania, among others.

The 31 essays in "The Empty Nest: 31 Parents Tell the Truth About Relationships, Love, and Freedom After the Kids Fly the Coop" let you relive those feelings and share in the community of parents who have all gone through the separation process, well, except for those parents who still have adult children living with them. Stabiner, the editor of this wonderful collection, provides her own story of letting go of her daughter as she hung precariously over the cliff's edge... of life.

"The Empty Nest" mixes the accounts of accomplished writers with those of unknowns, providing a wide range of experiences with the balance toward the mother's perspective, although fathers also have their say and even one non-parent, Harry Shearer, who I suppose has always had an empty nest but nonetheless manages to bring a perspective on children that both parents and non-parents can appreciate.

Will you find humor in these essays? Plenty. Heartbreak? Check. Moments of simple poignancy? Of course. Surprising insight coming from a candid reflection on the vicissitudes of life? Yep. The only thing you won't find is a false note or bloody ninja battles--which you might have gotten if Stabiner had asked a ninja parent, but wisely didn't.

It's not all good times, however, as some parents admit to uncovering strains in the relationship that were suppressed by the presence of kids, and others who find the loss of the parental identity so disorienting that they feel adrift in the sea of people with identities. But the writers of these essays show their resiliency as they cope with the new struggles and freedom from not having to constantly put worms in their young'uns' mouths.

So who should read "The Empty Nest"? Parents whose kids have moved on? Yes. Parents whose kids still roost at home? Couldn't hurt. Singletons who are curious to know what it feels like to depart with kids they will never have? Sure, why not. Kids who have left the nest? Might give a better understanding of what the folks are going through. Kids who have yet to leave the nest? Might give you a leg up on your folk's future emotional state the better to manipulate them. Kids who can't yet read? Probably a waste of time. The rest of humanity? Yes! What finer metaphor for the human condition could there be than that moment when you say good-bye to the kids knowing you've done your part to continue the species, assuming anyone would want to mate with those neurotic, clingy, unstable people who once made your life an interminable nightmare?
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Baby Boomers and the bond of family, June 8, 2007
This review is from: The Empty Nest: 31 Parents Tell the Truth About Relationships, Love and Freedom After the Kids Fly the Coop (Hardcover)
The strength of family relationships is as American as baseball and apple pie. And Karen Stabiner has assembled an extraordinary collection of essays that would pull at the heartstrings of even the most stoic of us. These stories of transition, told by parents facing the empty nest, resonated at many levels. From the son who pushed his Mom away so he would be free to individuate to the daughter for whom it was too painful to move away from home, this engaging book provides something for just about everyone.

The authors, writing about both their practical and emotional concerns, put the reader directly in the moment and into their process of separation from their children. For me it was a reminder of that chapter of my life - and of how much our relationships have changed, once again, now that our children are married with families of their own. Besides being extremely entertaining, this book normalized my feelings and validated my experience of that time of life.

Storytelling is really the best teacher. Humor and wisdom, pathos and advice were sprinkled throughout the essays. Short stories often leave me flat, ending before they go deep enough. But not these. As a collection, they manage to say it all. If you're a Baby Boomer parent, getting over the sadness of separation and enjoying being truly free for the first time in years, don't get too comfortable. Before too long, your emerging adult children could be boomeranging back home.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars a parent rite of passage, June 17, 2009
By 
Daniel B. Clendenin (www.journeywithjesus.net) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
I have to admit that on several visits to our public library, I saw this book on display. One time I thumbed through it, and on several occasions I almost checked it out. But I never did; maybe it was fear or denial, but I didn't look forward to "losing" the last of our three kids to college. A few weeks later our youngest of three children graduated from high school, signaling that our own empty nest was imminent. And then at the commencement exercises--voila!--a good friend handed me the book as a graduation present. I was glad that she did, and I was glad that I read about the experiences of other parents.

Standard wisdom suggests that two of the most stressful junctures of any marriage are when the first child arrives and when the last child leaves. But as these parent-authors show, in the best circumstances, the departure of your youngest child to college can be yet another thread in the rich tapestry of life. Bittersweet, yes, but also richly rewarding. It's a tremendous paradox, too. Is there any other job, asks Ellen Goodman, that defines success as making yourself unnecessary? Our goal as parents, after all, is to raise our kids to leave us, and if they don't, then in some measure we have failed. When our first two kids in college came home for holidays, upon their return trip to school I would ask them, "does returning to college feel like you are leaving home or returning home?" At some point they transitioned, and leaving their family meant returning to their new home of college friends. That was hard to hear as a parent, maybe, but just what you wanted to hear, too.

Most of these essays are written by mothers (24 of the 31 chapters). I appreciated the life wisdom of those parents who were further down the road and had gained more perspective and distance from the early traumas of emptying the nest. I especially appreciated reading how there are many different ways to experience healthy family dynamics. Stabiner does a good job of collecting stories from widely different perspectives--gay and straight, single dads and moms, Cuban and black parents, grandparents, families that appear more healthy and whole and others that have experienced deep heartaches and tragedies. Reading these stories helped to demystify my fear of the unknown, and to help me realize that whatever losses the empty nest bring, there are also unique joys ahead.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A gem of a collection of essays - they read like short stories!, July 15, 2008
By 
Arlene Joe (University Place, WA USA) - See all my reviews
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This is a wonderful collection of essays that actually read like short stories. The editor has done an excellent job ensuring variety of tales, consistently high quality writing, and engaging stories for many parents. No essay is more than 6 to 8 pages in length. Each is created by highly talented writers with very witty, insightful, and moving personal stories to share. It took me a year to open the book after it was gifted to me by sweet Winnie, mostly because I was dealing with my own transitions as my own daughter was leaving the nest. Many of the writers wrote their stories years after their nests were emptied, giving them the wisdom of hindsight that is so well infused in their writing. Great great stories. Don't miss them!
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspiring!, July 20, 2007
By 
Amy (Rhode Island) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Empty Nest: 31 Parents Tell the Truth About Relationships, Love and Freedom After the Kids Fly the Coop (Hardcover)
My son will not be going off to college for another year, but he went to a 3 week program "far away" at the beginning of the summer, and this book's title appealed to me. I've since sent it to two friends in similar situations, and it's quite the hit. The various writers examine all aspects of the empty nest experience, and present all kinds of emotional responses. Reading this made me feel anything but empty. It's fantastic, encouraging and uplifting.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The yuppie empty nest, April 21, 2013
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This collection contains many beautifully written essays, but the publisher's claim that it represents a variety of circumstances is borderline ridiculous. Although we do get one parent whose child joined the military and one (the most moving) whose schizophrenic son has died, these are mostly the stores of extremely well-off parents whose bright children are going on to prestigious colleges (or even better - boarding school), then on to brilliant careers. Again and again, we hear the story of the trip to Bed, Bath, and Beyond and the drive or flight to college with the only mention of money being the writing of tuition checks. I keep imagining this book as Studs Terkel would have done it. Then we would hear from the parents of kids who left to work as waitresses or coal miners, who married too young, who joined the military out of economic necessity, who went to a community college because there was just no other way. We could hear the worries of parents whose offspring had to mortgage their future with student loans. We would hear from parents who can't afford to just hop on a plane to see their far-flung offspring. In these economic times, this choice of essays seems tone deaf. It reminds me of the great Slate take-off on writers who give us articles about life at their summer homes, never realizing how ridiculously privileged they sound to so many people. As a single mom who did have to struggle economically, whose kids lived at home to go to college, not because they couldn't bear to part from me, but because there was no other choice, I was immensely frustrated reading this. I kept reading, hoping for the promised variety of voices, but it's just not there. It's the same voice over and over - rich, privileged, and completely unaware of that privilege.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good book but was missing something, September 23, 2013
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This book is about an empty nest when your children leave home but it never addressed single women whose children have let home! It was all married couples and I'm sure that more than myself wants to know about truly being alone in the house after the kids leave. How many single parents are there? Certainly enough to address it
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Help, October 3, 2010
we are going to be empty nesters next year and this book has been really helpful and touching.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Bought as a gift for relative., May 28, 2014
By 
Eric L Lau (Santa Clara, CA, US) - See all my reviews
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I bought this for an uncle whose son was moving away for high school (study internationally). I thought my uncle and aunt may experience the empty nest syndrome so decided to buy them a book to help them cope. The feedback I got was they enjoyed the book as it tells stories of others similar to them and it helped them refocus their relationship with each other after their kid left.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great grad present for H.S. PARENTS, January 15, 2010
By 
bookgrouper (Appleton, Wisconsin) - See all my reviews
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This book was loaned to me by a friend who had already experienced her kids leaving for college, & I liked it so much I bought it in paperback so I could re-read it! A nice collection of "stories" of parents that have been through it and their thoughts. Lots of insight that parents can use!
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