Preparing for the Empty Nest Years


The empty nest years can be a “tight ring season.”

That’s a term coined by Marci Seither and her husband after a customer hired the Seithers’ sawmill in Northern California to remove a huge tree from the spot where the customer’s new home would be built.

Feeling it a shame to lose such a beautiful tree, the homeowners planned to recycle the lumber by using it in the house’s construction. Once the tree was cut down, however, the wood was determined to be too weak for use. The tree rings were too far apart. Years of soaking rain and ample sunshine had enabled the tree to grow big and lush. But without having to work for it, the tree hadn’t developed much inner strength.

Tight rings reveal seasons of heat and drought where the tree had to dig its roots deeper into the soil for nourishment. Tight rings are an indication of stress. But also, of strength.

For Marci Seither’s family, tight tree rings became a metaphor. When one of her sons was deployed to Afghanistan, she told her husband, “This’ll be a tight-ring year.” When another of her six children began making poor decisions, Marci steeled herself for a season of tight tree rings and knew she’d have to dig her roots deeper into her faith in Christ.

She and her husband faced a tight ring season when they became empty nesters as well. A lot of couples can relate. Jean and I are on the verge of entering that season of life right now. Trent is in college, and Troy will soon be launching into his future.

When that moment comes and your child leaves, you won’t need to know what to do with an empty room, you’ll need to know how to handle the empty hole in your heart.

If you’re on the verge of an empty nest, join us for our Focus on the Family Broadcast “Preparing for the Empty Nest Years” on your local radio station, online, on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, or on our free phone app.

Marci Seither is with us to help you prepare for what’s ahead. She has great advice for making this transition smooth for you, for helping siblings cope with the loss of a brother or sister who’s moving out, and for deciding how to handle children who have moved out and want to return home.

We’ll be talking about Marci’s book Empty Nest: Strategies to Help Your Kids Take Flight, which is available to you today for a gift of any amount. And when you help Focus on the Family today with a gift, your donation will be doubled for twice the impact in helping others through this ministry. Our thanks to generous donors who’ve made that possible. Visit our website for details.

Photo from Shutterstock



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Jim Daly with Paul Batura

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