The Empty Nest: 31 Parents Tell the Truth About Relationships, Love, and Freedom After the Kids Fly the Coop


A heartwarming, wry, and often surprising collection of essays about the next rite of passage for Baby Boomers: what happens when the kids leave home

As the baby boom generation ages — the oldest are now turning sixty — many of them are learning to deal with a whole new way of life, after the last child has finally moved out and they are, once again, alone. It's the same milestone their own parents faced, but as with so many other markers, this...

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A heartwarming, wry, and often surprising collection of essays about the next rite of passage for Baby Boomers: what happens when the kids leave home

As the baby boom generation ages — the oldest are now turning sixty — many of them are learning to deal with a whole new way of life, after the last child has finally moved out and they are, once again, alone. It's the same milestone their own parents faced, but as with so many other markers, this generation approaches it in a whole new way.

In this fascinating collection, journalist Karen Stabiner has assembled essays from thirty-one writers about their own experience with the empty nest. Parents whose children left home last week join those with grandchildren to explore how life changes once the offspring leave (unless, of course, they move back in again later). They represent the full range of experience — from traditional nuclear families to single parents to gay parents to grandparents — with humor, grace, and poignancy.

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Editorial Reviews

Mia Geiger
Yes, the empty nest is a rough place to be. But take heart: As these highly readable and engaging essays show, you're not alone. And, there are always the grandchildren.
— The Washington Post
Washington Post
Highly readable and engaging.
People Magazine
Anyone dreading, savoring or recovering from their child's entering [adulthood], will recognize themselves in these bittersweet, boldly personal essays from more than 30 parents. . . . Packed with hard-earned wisdom and snippets of advice, this comforting collection by pining parents softens the blow of the inescapable.
Los Angeles Times
Skillfully gathered and edited by L.A. writer Karen Stabiner . . . these writers create a much-needed road map . . . [Many of the] stories are rich with the kind of honesty you won't hear at graduation -- stories of difficulties and rawness that keep the anthology from becoming too predictable.
Publishers Weekly

This collection, edited by Stabiner (My Girl: Adventures with a Teen in Training), includes essays by such well-known authors as Anna Quindlen, Ellen Goodman and Susan Shreve, as well as lesser knowns. Mothers write the bulk of the stories, though a handful of dads, such as Charles McGrath, help to balance the perspective. Quindlen, always a reliable sage, writes that the empty nest is emptier than ever before by virtue of the fact that so many mothers of her generation threw themselves so wholeheartedly into the role. Alongside the recurring motif of parents sighing forlornly at the threshold of their children's empty rooms, there is also a place for humor ("You lose a child, you gain a sex life," writes Letty Cottin Pogrebin in the essay "Epiphanies of the Empty Nest") as well as a sense of optimism and rebirth ("I felt myself standing a little taller, like a plant reaching up toward the sun," observes Marian Sandmaier). While many of these essays address kids leaving for college, one mother laments a son who died of a heart ailment and another a boy who has set off for Iraq. This varied and compassionate collection may not mitigate the empty nesters' pain, but it should make them feel that they're in good company as they navigate this parental rite of passage. (May)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781401340773
  • Publisher: Hyperion
  • Publication date: 5/6/2008
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 501,467
  • Product dimensions: 5.25 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Karen Stabiner

Karen Stabiner, the author of seven books, is a regular contributor to the Huffington Post, the Los Angeles Times Opinion section and many other major publications. Her response to the hype about troubled teenage girls, My Girl: Adventures with a Teen in Training, was a finalist for the 2005 Books for a Better Life award. She lives in Santa Monica, California, with her husband; their daughter, Sarah, left for college in the fall of 2007.

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Table of Contents

Proof of Love   Karen Stabiner     1
Flown Away, Left Behind   Anna Quindlen     13
Regime Change   Charles McGrath     17
Careful What You Wish For   Susan Crandell     23
Always Close   Annette Duffy     32
The Rules of the Road   Vicky Mann     41
The Last Summer   Hilary Mills     51
My Cart   Harvey Molotch     62
Time Traveler   Marian Sandmaier     71
The Science of Ghost Hunting   Fabiola Santiago     81
Who Knows Where the Time Goes   Fran Visco     92
Migrations   Ellen Levine     100
Without a Net   Jon Carroll     105
3GRLMOM   Martha Schuur     112
The Dog Waiting by the Door   Andrea L. Chambers     121
In Twos   Grace Saltzstein     132
A Rotten Enough Parent   Douglas Foster     141
Epiphanies of the Empty Nest   Letty Cottin Pogrebin     150
A Mile Ain't What It Used to Be   Brenda C. Roberts     158
Leaving the Island   Martha Tod Dudman     172
Good-bye to the Sunset Man   Lee Smith     183
The Shuffle   Jan Constantine     195
Legacies   Roger Wilkins     203
Keeping Him Safe   Rochelle Reed     213
The Shoes on the Stairs   Jamie Wolf     220
Afterwards   Roxana Robinson     233
Conversations   Kit Rachlis     244
Trading a Business Suit for Blue Jeans   Glynna Freeman     254
The Godfather   Harry Shearer     262
Juggling Lite   Ellen Goodman     269
The Old Blue House and the New Blue House   Susan Shreve     281
Contributors     291
Acknowledgments     301
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