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Crisis and/or relief? an examination of mothers’ and fathers’ experiences of the empty nest transition

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(Thesis) M.A.
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A popular belief is that mothers experience an "empty nest syndrome" when their young adult children leave home. Recent research, however, challenges this notion, with its associated time of depression, crisis, and grief. However, there is a lack of research on both mothers' and fathers' experiences of this transition, as well as the role of ethnocultural background on this transition. Building upon life course theory, this study examines parental experiences of the empty nest transition and what effects it has on parental emotional health and well-being, while taking into account gender, ethnic background, and other contextual factors. This mixed methods study uses data from telephone surveys (a sub-sample of 316 British, Chinese, Southern European, and Indo/East Indian parents) and sixteen in-depth interviews. Findings reveal variation by gender, ethnic background, and socio-demographic characteristics. Finally, coping strategies and community programs that could help parents who are experiencing this transition will be highlighted.
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