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On a Personal Note: The fear of empty nest, by Rabbi Susan Silverman

My spouse and I are now empty nesters.

I have dreaded this since the day I became a mom. Really. I was actively haunted by it—having to calm myself with the number of years I still had before each kid would launch. Yes, them growing and heading into their own lives is what we parent for. We wish nothing short of this for them. But, wow, is it hard to let them go.

Working in the foster care space, we see children removed from families not because they are young adults striking out on their own, but because of challenges in their families of origin. Thus by necessity, in the placement and foster family side of things, we focus on the children in our care. However there are two things I think about every day. One, is that the well-being of the family of origin is deeply tied to the well-being of the child. Moreover, the other is that these separations are heartbreaking for everyone in that family, and that some of these removals do not have to happen or can at least be repaired.

For so many of us, the healthy independence of our children is painful even when those relationships are loving and connected. It’s hard to imagine the traumatic separation for parents and kids when the child still needs our daily presence and when crisis and pain led to that separation.

I can wallow in the sadness around us like a pro. I still do sometimes. Nevertheless, for Second Nurture, like all foster care organizations, wallowing is not an option. It is our obligation to be engaged in the system and, with each child placed in the care of one of our families, do everything we can to maintain those relationships and our kids and their parents of origin be the family that will one day, have that bittersweet and healthy separation. We hope that our foster families will be there, by the parents’ sides, smiling through tears.

Susan Silverman, CEO of 2N


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