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This article is part of The Third Third of Life Toolkit—a collection of resources for ministry to and with people ages 55 and over, brought to you by two ministries of the Christian Reformed Church in North America: Disability Concerns and Faith Formation Ministries.

The third third of life usually brings significant changes in family structure, especially as kids leave home. The resources gathered here offer good advice to third-thirders facing family transitions. They also include some challenges for churches who want to minister to older adults experiencing the grief or stress that can accompany these transitions.


  • 6 Months to Sendoff: How to Emotionally Prepare Your Child (and Yourself) for College. This helpful article gives anxious parents a six-month checklist they can use to prepare their child and themselves for the college transition.

  • The Effects of “Helicopter Parenting." Helicopter parents (who want to oversee all the details of their child’s life) intervene from preschool through college, trying to clear the way for their child’s happiness and success. This article explains why these interventions often cause anxiety and lack of self-confidence in kids.

  • The Empty Nest. Karen Gorter writes of the true grief she experienced over her empty nest and offers helpful suggestions from a Christian perspective for navigating this difficult transition.

  • Parenting Transitions: Dealing with the Empty Nest. Kelsi Kellen offers another perspective on the empty nest, emphasizing some of the positives as well as the negatives. She also includes helpful suggestions about new ways adults can direct their energy.

  • Empty Nest: From a Single Parent’s Perspective. How is the empty nest transition different for single parents? Deborah Mitchell honestly describes her grief when her daughter first leaves home, offers good explanations for why the transition may be harder for single parents, and lists some things to avoid. 

  • Detour to Contentment. Cecilia Lynne talks about what it means to find contentment as a single mother of adult children.

  • Re-Emerging Adults. Just when people are recovering from the pain of the empty nest, they often face a new transition: adult children moving back home. Jenny DeGroot reflects on the blessings and challenges of living with adult children.



  • What are some ways your church can recognize empty nesters and challenge these parents in new directions?


If you’re part of the Christian Reformed Church in North America and you have questions about how to strengthen your church’s ministry to and with people in the third third of life, one of Faith Formation Ministries’ Regional Catalyzers would love to talk with you about ideas and strategies.

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