This post is not necessarily about wedding planning and family drama. But it could be. The sheer magnitude of work required to help prepare for your child’s wedding is itself a major stressor. So, for the record, this aspect is baked into the main point of this conversation. All that said, there is an elephant in the room that must be addressed.
Your child’s approaching wedding is a big deal. The happy couple deserves the focus, attention, and well wishes. Yet, as a parent, you are also going through a life-altering transition. This transition also deserves a whole lot of attention.
You won’t want to bring this up during the wedding prep, but it is normal for the parents to feel some mixed emotions right about now. For example:
Do I like my child’s spouse? (and what about the in-laws?)
Basically, a group of complete strangers is about to become part of your family. Thanksgiving is about to seriously change.
Will my baby have a happy marriage and life?
You worried on their first day at school, during the big soccer match, and you still worry now. Will they start a family and stay married? Will they fulfill their dreams?
Where did the time go and what do I do now?
Yes, of course, this is your child’s moment to shine. But who says that stops you from wondering where and how you fit in from now on?
Working Through the Transition of Your Child’s Approaching Wedding
Let’s try addressing some of the above questions.
1. Accept Your Child’s Decisions
There’s no law that says you have to be crazy about your daughter-in-law or son-in-law. But you can respect the social contract. Your child is creating a legal separation from their life with you. They are free to experiment and explore. Your job is to give them space, provide your support, and offer advice when appropriate.
2. Give Your New Extended Family a Chance
Remember a few things:
- These folks are part of your life now
- There’s little value in pre-judging anyone
- You are not required to become bosom buddies
Put in a sincere effort. Consult with your child for feedback. Hope for the best.
3. Expect and Embrace Change
Your child may move in directions that surprise you. This could be related to religion, sexual orientation, political viewpoints, or even geographical location. Any such change can feel like it compounds the sense of loss you already feel. But you had your time and did your best. The best gift you can give them now is your trust.
4. Reimagine Yourself
Empty Nest Syndrome is real but it’s not automatically a bad thing. You will miss your child but you won’t miss certain aspects of having them around all the time. For starters, if you’re still married, use this transition as an invitation to rediscover each other.
Here are a few more potentially welcome changes:
- Create your own, personal daily schedule
- Take up new hobbies and interests
- Rearrange or redecorate your home
- Take vacations
- Hold dinner parties
- Go back to school
- Try a new career
Most of all, be spontaneous. Ask yourself often: What do I feel like doing right now?
Ask For Help
You do not have to navigate this life transition alone. Working with a therapist is a proven path for making major life changes a little easier. I would love to connect with you soon for a free consultation.