When Your Kids Spread Their Wings and Leave the Nest Empty

It's good to let your birds leave the nestThis past year or two I’ve watched my children spread their wings and really begin to fly. In a few cases, they are still flapping them around a bit and wondering if they can really handle a long distance flight, if they’ve got the skill, the endurance, the character. But every day they fly just a little farther, just a little longer, proving to themselves and to others–including me–that they can do it.

There’s something so rewarding about watching your kids fly off. I’m not talking about them just leaving home. I’m talking about them finding their flight pattern…or their actual flight path. They might have trim tabbed a few times, or even fallen on their faces (or butts), but they picked themselves up and tried again. Maybe they perched in trees close to home at first or decided to choose trees far away from the nest. No matter their choices, when you can see them finding a current and riding it toward another tree–one they really want to land in–or a far off cliff, it’s a wonderful sight.

I have a daughter who is studying in New York to become a set designer. She is already working with Broadway set designers and creating sets for shows at her university. She knows how to draft and create models. Every day she gets a bit  more confident and more ready to set out into the world of theater and make a name for herself. I have a son who is a dancer. He left home for New York in his senior year and then went off to Germany to become an apprentice with a ballet company. Any day now he’ll find out if he has a full position in the corps de ballet. Their souls knew they had to fly…and where they had to fly. They flapped and flew. They still flap a bit but fly longer and farther and with more grace, confidence and ease all the time.

Some parents want to keep their chicks in the nest. They are afraid to let them take flight. Yet, as parents, we are supposed to raise our children to become independent. I think one of the biggest gifts we can give our children is the ability to follow their hearts and to spread their wings. By doing both these things they can discover who they are and explore what the world has to offer them–and what they can contribute to it.

In much the same way, as adults we need to give ourselves permission to follow our hearts and spread our wings. We may feel our wings were clipped as we were growing up–possibly by parents who were afraid to let us get too far away from the nest or to try flying to high or in different directions than they felt comfortable with. And that’s the wonderful thing about children leaving the nest. You can use them as an example, a model…for yourself. As they test their wings and begin flying higher and farther, spread yours again and test them out. Fly differently. Fly somewhere new.

This might feel scary. We get set in our ways as we get older–afraid to leave the nest (our old habits). Go out to the edge of the empty nest. There’s nothing holding you there now. Try hopping to the next branch. Fly to the next tree….then the next…Catch a thermal. See where it takes you.

4 thoughts on “When Your Kids Spread Their Wings and Leave the Nest Empty”

  1. I am so glad I came across this article. As I am having to let my daughter last child fly and spread her wings 1700 miles from home. I have cried so many tears. It’s so hard when your friends kids live in the same town. And you hear about the lunch dates or shopping they do with there kids and I can’t do that. Our son is also thousand miles away. I sometimes think did we do something wrong in raising them but after reading this I have to believe it’s what we did right. It’s just painful!

    1. Today im experience the same feelings, why i did wrong, why they want to leave me? Yesterday my daughter left to another state. I feel devastated can’t stop crying and pray God to please guide her and protect her. Everyone is telling me i have to let her spread her wings, but nobody can’t understand how painful it is!

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