Barbara and Susan’s Guide to the Empty Nest: Review

Thanks to Bethany House for a review copy of Barbara and Susan’s Guide to the Empty Nest.

With two daughters already graduated from high school, and a third with two years to go, I figure I’m the perfect audience for Barbara and Susan’s Guide to the Empty Nest. This book is full of information about the “empty nest” — how to approach feelings about the situation, what to do in various aspects of life once the kids have left home, etc.

Susan Yates and Barbara Rainey are the authors (as I’m sure you picked up from the title — it did strike me as a little odd that they’d feature their names so prominently), and some of my favorite parts of the book were their stories about their own journeys.

Barbara recalls her grandmother telling her how she felt as young inside in her 70s as she had at 30. “But to me she was old, nearly 50 years my senior, and I couldn’t understand how she could feel anything other than old.” Interesting how our perspectives on age — our own and others’ — vary so much throughout our lives.

As Barbara’s kids grew up, she realized that “I had become attached to my role (as a mom). I liked being important in their lives … and now that the kids are gone, I wonder: Am I needed anymore? By anyone?” I think most of us have experienced similar feelings as our kids get older.

Susan shared experiences, too — and it’s kind of strange, given that we share a name, but her thoughts really struck home with me. She mentions visiting her daughter’s nearly-empty closet: “My life was like that closet used to be. So crammed, so full, great diversity, comings and goings, opening and shutting doors, happy voices, phones ringing. And now it’s quiet. Too quiet.”

The Empty Nest

After a bit of commiserating, the ladies delve into goals we can set for ourselves in “the second half of life.” These were stated positively, and even if some of the circumstances didn’t really apply for me, their peppy attitude was appreciated. Overall, I see this book as one with a lot of wisdom from older women, for younger women. That cross-generational sharing has a lot of value, I think, and it’s something that doesn’t seem to happen a lot today.

If you’re an empty nester — or will be in the near future — I thinkĀ  you’d glean some helpful bits from this book.


4 thoughts on “Barbara and Susan’s Guide to the Empty Nest: Review

  1. I’m glad you gleaned some helpful info from it. And I agree, cross-generational sharing doesn’t seem to happen often anymore. I think it’s because families have become so fractured by distance, etc.

  2. I agree with Elaine. Sharing across the generations can be so helpful and we need more of it!! I’ve had an empty-nest for a long time. I can’t recall any specific emotions except for missing my girls but I knew they had reached the age where they would move on. So I moved on also by working a full-time job in order to save for retirement. Keeping busy with your own life with working, volunteering, doing things you never had time to do before (for me it was reading), etc. will help. Sounds like a great book to read at this time in your life, Susan.

  3. This does sound interesting. My middle son was our wanderer, going on several mission trips, working at a camp every summer for several years. But when I saw him packing that last time before he got married, it hit me so hard that this was permanent! When we’ve spent so many years with our kids as our primary occupation and focus, it’s natural that we’ll miss them. Yet the empty nest (or almost empty in my case) has its perks, too. I did like the freedom of my husband and I being able to come and go without worrying about what was going on at home or working around school schedules. That’s one of the main things I miss with my husband’s mom here, but that’s just how it has to be for now. Anyway, I might just look into this.

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