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Empty nesters are going a different route

Confession: sometimes, I think about the future and I'm scared to become an empty nester. My home right now is filled with kids most of the time. I love the commotion.

But this week, fresh off high school graduation season, I wrote about what it's like today to be an empty nester and the readjustment to a new work life balance. I was pretty inspired by those I spoke to for the article. They made me feel like there's a lot to look forward to when my kids leave home. 

Below is my article. Working parents, are you dreading the transition to empty nester or looking forward to it?

 

The Miami Herald

Empty-nest parents embrace new possibilities

By Cindy Krischer Goodman
balancegal@gmail.com

   Bruce Katzen and daughter Alli, 18, have a playful tug-of-war with Alli's University of Michigan sweatshirt. When Alli leaves Miami Beach for Ann Arbor, Mich.,  this fall,. Bruce will be an empty-nester dad.
MARSHA HALPER / Miami Herald Staff
Bruce Katzen and daughter Alli, 18, have a playful tug-of-war with Alli's University of Michigan sweatshirt. When Alli leaves Miami Beach for Ann Arbor, Mich., this fall,. Bruce will be an empty-nester dad.
Sitting at his youngest daughter’s high school graduation, Bruce Katzen fought back the sting in his eyes. His thoughts raced from “Oh, my God, my baby is graduating” to “this is going to be an exciting time for my wife and I.”

“It’s a milestone,” Katzen said.

This month, parents of more than 3 million high school graduates are celebrating the transition to the next phase of their children’s lives. But where generations past fretted over the empty nest and the prospect of loneliness, today’s middle agers, are active in the workforce and see the transition as opportunity for better work life balance and new routines.

As a dad and lawyer at Kluger Kaplan in Miami, Katzen, 52, feels he can’t kick back yet at work. He has college tuition to pay. But he says he can stay late at the office without feeling guilty, exercise after work, eat dinner whenever he and his wife want. “We can have our own schedule, and it can be much more relaxed.”

The new generation of empty nesters are moms and dads who typically started their careers before marriage and parenthood. Now that their grown children are ready to move out, they confront the new household dynamic with the expected sadness but also with endless options for enriching their lives.

Some are asking for more hours at work or attending more networking events. Others are indulging in a new passion or hobby, traveling, dating, exercising, volunteering and mentoring.

Working mothers who spent years juggling job demands and kids needs, see a future without tough choices and parental guilt. “In some respects it’s liberating,” says Diane Katzen, a lawyer with Miami’s Richman Greer. “You don’t have the stress of dealing with the everyday type of responsibilities. If I want to stay late at the office and have dinner at 9:30 p.m., I don’t have to worry.”

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