The 10 Best Books for Empty Nesters

 

I have read a whole lot of empty nester books preparing for this post and only one was completely terrible. (I opted not to include it in this list.) Each of these 10 Best Books for Empty Nesters offers something different – some are about the grief of an empty nest, some are about parenting adult children, some aren't really about empty nesting at all, but are so relevant for our stage of life.

For more empty nest resources and ideas:

What is Empty Nest Syndrome? (And what to do about it)

Over 50 Empty Nest Hobbies

The 10 Best Empty Nest Books

 

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Best Books for Empty Nest Syndrome

“Barbara and Susan's Guide to the Empty Nest” by Barbara Rainey and Susan Yates

Best quote from the book:  “It is helpful to articulate the challenges and then choose to focus on the blessings of each distinct season. When we define the challenges and discuss them with others, we discover that we are normal! When we are intentional in looking for the blessings, we discover the joys that God has prepared for us. It's important to remember that no season lasts forever. We want to really live in each unique time and miss nothing.”

Barbara Rainey and Susan Yates are both involved in Christian ministry. The outline for this book was developed from a gathering they hosted inviting women to come and “join in a lively discussion of the season of the empty nest.” The 23 attendees “ranged from  a mother whose oldest was a sophomore in high school to a young widow whose kids were grown.” 

This book is a very practical guide covering topics like parenting your adult children, menopause, marriage, and “what's next?” It has a small group and study guide in the back of the book. The book gives practical tips and steps to take in working through the transition to an empty nest including plans for empty nest celebrations with just your husband or with your girl friends.

“Release My Grip” by Kami Gilmore

Best quote from the book:

“…the person I need to keep pointing him (her son) to as he faces these big life choices is not me, it's God. That is the greatest contribution I can give him as his mother.”

“Release My Grip” is a workbook for Christian mothers to help us release our tightly held grips on our children and entrust our children to God. A friend of mine said this in an empty nest facebook group: “I am not sure who recommended the book, ‘Release My Grip,' but I wanted to say ‘thank you.' It was a really good read.”

Each chapter of this book includes a touching and sometimes humorous story by the author. She also includes journal prompts, other activities and prayers. One chapter even deals with what to do when your child calls and is out of money. Allowing our child some financial discomfort is not something we are immediately comfortable with.

Kami says in the introduction, “The stories in this book are a collection of ‘aha' moments I journaled while standing knee-deep in the season of releasing my grip as my daughter left the nest followed by my son a few years later.”

“A View from an Empty Nest” by Bonnie Beth Sparrman

Best Quote in the Book: 

“And give yourself time. You didn't adjust to motherhood overnight, and the same is true for letting them go.”

“A View from an Empty Nest” is a small devotional book and would make a great gift for a new empty nest mom. There are 42 chapters that are short and can be read in less than 5 minutes. Her subtitle is “Surprising, Poignant, Wonderful Things on the Horizon.”

Bonnie aims through her devotionals to lead the empty nester to a peaceful, happy, and fulfilled life. She encourages us to work on our marriages and to lean on God during this transition.

“Chicken Soup for the Soul”

I don't have a quote from this book because it is a different sort of book. It is a collection of stories written by many authors about their empty nest experiences. Many are quite touching and tear-jerking, so if you are in the throws of grief, this may not be the book for you. The book gives you empathy and lets you know others feel like you do, but it does not give tips to get past the grief.

I enjoyed many of the stories as they are so well written and not preachy. I appreciated that there were also stories from parents whose nests will never be empty because their children have disabilities. This book is appropriate for people of all faiths.

Best Books for Parenting Adult Children

“Empty Nest, Full Life” by Jill Savage

Best Quote in the Book: 

“What if you did not think of it as ‘too late' but rather as ‘just in time' to make a difference in the second half of your marriage, or in your ability to have a healthy relationship with your adult kids, or to influence young lives as a grandparent, or for you to experience the freedom you long for?”

I had a hard time coming up with just one quote because this book contained so many. It is the deepest, most vulnerable, and raw of all of the books I read. The first half of the book concerns relationships with adult children. She has truly struggled and come out the other side including loving her homosexual son and his friends and dealing with mental illness in another son. Her insight into what drives us as parents to try to control our adult children and beat ourselves up if they do not “turn out” like we would have wanted is unmatched in any of the other books I read.

Another quote: 

“… I'd made my children's behavior an idol. I was using them to define myself. In order to have a healthy relationship with my kids, I had to let go of my idols.”

The second half of the book is about the empty nest, our relationships with our spouses, and how we plan to live out the rest of our lives. She is very encouraging and gives many practical tips for a “full life.”

“Doing Life with Your Adult Children” by Jim Burns

Best Quote in the Book: 

“No parent wants to see a child end up homeless, make unwise decisions, or lead a negative lifestyle. But this is where parents must face their fears and decide what is best for their child in the long run.”

“Doing Life with your Adult Children” is a practical guide to having good relationships with your grown children. He covers topics such as when to insert your opinion, avoiding entitlement, in-laws, and stepfamilies, grandchildren, and financial planning (including estate planning) with your kids.

Other Helpful Empty Nest Books

“Back Roads to Belonging” by Kristen Strong

Best Quote in the Book: 

“Could it be, in those dark times of change, when we long to belong in a larger place but see no evidence of growth there, that the growth is moving in a downward direction? That growth is happening where roots reach and spread and become stronger? Yes, because growth still happens in the dark, and good things grow from lowly, dark places”

Kristen Strong is no stranger to change, having moved many times during her husband's military career. Kristen's experiences of having to find new places to belong every few years shadow the life of a new empty nester looking for new places to belong now that the years of finding friends in booster clubs and chaperoning youth group are over. Her words are soothing and inspiring and give practical tips for finding your place after big changes.

“The Happiness Dare” by Jennifer Dukes Lee

Best Quote in the Book: 

“Happiness isn't apart from God. It is a part of him.”

“The Happiness Dare” takes on the often held Christian belief that God is not interested in our happiness. As empty nesters finding new avenues of joy and happiness is essential to our health. I shared insight from this book in the post Why an Empty Nest Makes Us Sad. She absolutely nails what sometimes robs us of joy as our children leave.

 “Slay Like a Mother” by Katherine Wintsch

Best Quote from the Book:

“The negative voice in your head is an overly dramatic interpretation of what's going on in your life, as told by the most fragile parts of your ego.”

One of the most moving experiences of the last few months for me involved this book. I attended a blogging conference and Katherine Wintsch was one of the speakers.

We each entered the room to find a copy of “Slay Like a Mother” in our chairs. I did not know many people at the conference and I sat down next to a very young woman on the end of an aisle. The lights went down in the room and a video began to play. The video was of women reading the last negative thing they had said to themselves off of index cards. Then pairs of women told each other what they had written down. In each case the women embraced each other and encouraged the other that she was better than what was on that card. There was not a dry eye in the room.

Then the lights came up and Katherine told us to turn to the person next to us and tell her the last negative thing we had said to ourselves. I said, “I can't do this” – meaning the conference. I was scared out of my mind because the people there were BIG TIME and had sponsors and the speakers were bloggers with STAFFS!! I am a small one gal operation. The girl next to me then said, “Everyone would be better off without me.”

I immediately hugged her and tears came down my cheeks because, Girl, I have thought that way more times than I would like to admit. And I know it is NOT TRUE, but sometimes we women are that down on ourselves.

I recommend this book with full disclosure that IT IS NOT A CHRISTIAN BOOK. However, as women who have reached midlife, we often have issues that we have struggled with for 30+ years that we have never dealt with and it may be time to deal. I am taking advantage of having more time than ever by reading books like this, seeing a therapist, and listening to positive books and podcasts. If you have even one “issue,” I encourage you to read “Slay Like a Mother.”

It is actually written for younger mothers, but the principals are the same. We all need to learn “How to Destroy What's Holding You Back so You Can Live the Life You Want.”

 

“All My Friends Have Issues” by Amanda Anderson

Best Quote from the Book:

I listened to this book on Audible, so it is hard to go back and find the BEST quote, but here is the first line of the first chapter.

“Bathrooms, though unhygienic and accident-likely places to use one's phone, are often where I make and receive important, authentic communications.”

Amanda Anderson writes a funny and poignant book about friendships (and why we need them even if everyone we meet is imperfect). As empty nesters we often have to find new friends. She encourages us that it is worth the effort. I enjoyed listening to this book because it is read by the author and she is genuinely funny!! I have now ordered the paperback version of “All My Friends Have Issues,” so I can go back and highlight everything that you can't highlight while you are driving a car. I am also thinking about using it for a small group I am in.

 

These are my Top 10 Best Books for Empty Nesters. I would love to know if you have read any books that would give encouragement to women who are empty nesters. Leave your suggestions in the comments below.

 

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Empty Nest Super Power?

How to Own Your Nest, Live your Passion, and Love your Life!

 

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