I’ll write it: what scares me more than anything else – more than cancer, death, or nuclear war – is the thought of my children leaving home.
Often, I talk to them about when they will leave, and I will encourage them to spread their wings when the time comes. But, but, I struggle to imagine it. I’m finding it hard to type this. An empty house. My central purpose, eviscerated.
Discussing this issue today with a friend, I suspect that my generation of fathers could be the first generation of men – ever – to have spent so much time with our kids. Men were already becoming more involved parents when Covid struck. Since then, given that working from home has become the norm for previously office-based workers, we men really know our children. As we should.
I am not suggesting that this generation of fathers are any better than the generations before us, nor am I comparing the roles of mothers versus fathers, but this is a novel situation for which I don’t feel qualified to contend with. And I haven’t heard anyone talking about it.
In recent years, I have attended the funerals of two of my male friends who committed suicide. Most people know that suicide is the biggest killer of men under 45. This won’t happen to me – so please don’t worry – but I mention this now as I fear that empty nest syndrome may take more men and take them later in their lives. We need to start talking about this now.