Overwhelming Sadness About Children Growing Up...

I am glad that I found this site. I am 41 years old, with daughters aged 14, 16 & 19.  I feel so sad that they are growing up. I don't know how to face the future. I can truly say that the happiest times of my life was when they were young, and even then I felt a sadness that they would be growing up.
I am wondering now if this is depression or perhaps a lack of  "self" needed to have a normal, meaningful life without small children around. Could it be that they gave me purpose, and now I need to find that on my own merit, my own self...not relying on them? I see how these feelings can harm them, and keep them from growing into healthy productive individuals. They need a good role model, and someone to rely on for their adulthood situations, not just from a childs perspective & needs. Thank you for letting me see this by reading others experiences with this. I need to get a grip on this, and realize that this has to do with my own lack of confidence and contentment. 
mariaelenak mariaelenak 41-45 18 Responses Mar 10, 2011

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I'm a Dad, seems to be that all the writings on this subject are from mothers. I have 2 young daughters (4 and almost 2) and I fear them growing up because I love them so much and the bond is so strong. I've had this almost constant fear since my first was born, of time passing too quickly and so on. It makes me cry from time to time, makes me not want to go to work so I can spend all my time with them, although I don't think it's to the extent of clinical depression ... I suppose it helps a little to hear from others with similar feelings, but it won't stop the time passing. The only comfort I can find is the idea that there will be another chance with grandkids one day, I only hope I can be as close to them again and have the same kind of bond. I never would have guessed that I could have this kind and depth of emotion and weakness, before I had children, I was not even sure that I wanted kids. I am even crying a little as I write this.

I have 3 girls 12, 10 and 3. I have been struggling with this immense sadness for quite a long time now. When I see pictures of my 12 and 10 year olds from just a few years ago I cry. I feel so depressed and wish they were that little again. I hate how fast time goes. I love who they are now but I miss them as they were when they were that little. They were both so very sweet and I could still carry them. Now my 12 year old is almost the same height as me. I see her becoming a young woman and it really hurts. Where did my baby go? When my 10 year old turned 10 I cried. She is now in the double digits and it makes me feel so sad. I am glad I am not alone. I honestly thought I was crazy feeling so down about this.

I have girls 17 & 15. The pain started when my oldest was four years old and she didn't want my help with anything because she was a "big girl" now. I grew up with both parents at home, but always felt lonely and alone, because my parents weren't affectionate. I vowed to give my children all the that I em my world. We were so close. they are my best friends, but now that they are teens, I'm not their best friend anymore. They don't even want to be in the same room as me it seems. My oldest use to come home and tell me about her day, now her new boyfriend gets that news. My youngest is only interested in me if I'm buying her something. I just feel like I've been kicked out of the club. Like I've been dumped. This growing up business happened too fast for me. After reading these post I know that I need to get a life of my own and get over this self pity of being alone and left out.

Sounds like you've done a great job and I'm in the same boat but mine are a little younger, still take it to heart if they don't want to spend time with me though :(
I have recently started to go to the cinema and go out for lunch with my friends more but its difficult as I just love spending time with my sons and one day I will be replaced by a wife...arghhh!!! Just hope I like them lol. Keep up the good work :)

Im 40 andI have 2 boys 13 +11 and reading all your comments have made me feel better..just had a little weep as i feel a little useless at times now they are growing.Don't know how I'll cope when they move out :(.....wish time would slow down as it doesn't feel a minute since they were my babies.

We are the same age. I have one going off to college this year. I'm happy, but at the same time I'm hurt. This pain too shall past. I did a good job of raising her and she will be ok. You are doing a great job and when the time comes for them to go give yourself a pat on the back for a job well done.

I feel exactly the same as you. I sometimes wonder if one day this sadness that we all harbour so stoically will be recognised in a similar way to that of post-natal depression. Hardly a day goes by without my eyes filling up with tears and sadness consuming me. I am at work now and I have just heard the sound of running in the corridor - the sound only children's feet can make - and suddenly, bang, it hits me. Is it my children, running to my office door? Of course not, they are happily enjoying their university lives away from home. I am overjoyed that they are happy and successfully living independently, but I so miss my old role, being mum. I don't know how to deal with this pain - I know it's not good for me. Like you I keep trying to set my sites on new things, new interests etc. I know that when they were young it wasn't always good all of the time. I moaned a lot and enjoyed getting some time to myself. But children seem to me now to be the most beautiful, sweet, special creatures I will ever know. I feel the love in bucketloads and it's weighing me down. I just guess it's a form of grief and it will take time. I have never sought out a 'forum' like this before and I feel much better knowing I'm not alone in how I feel. Here's hoping we both recover and feel the love, without the sadness.

oh Lord...I could have written this post. Why is this happening? Does it ever get better?

I completely understand where all of us moms are coming from. I am dealing with this right now. I am 42 years old, and my kids are 15, 12, and 7. I am already dealing with these feelings that my kids are getting older and they don't need me as much especially the 15 and 12 year old. I am holding onto my 7 year old tighter because I don't want these years to go by so fast. I do realize that I have to let go but it is so hard. No one told me how hard it would be as the kids grew up and got older. I don't like my kids getting older, but nothing I can do about it. I have cried many tears over this lately, and I am not sure what I can do. I am a stay at home mom and have been for the last 15 years. Any suggestions of what I can do, or ways to make things easier would be appreciated. Being a mom is the hardest job there ever was!!

My daughter is 6. I wish she could stay that way forever so I could love and protect the dream child she is but this is egoistic and unreal. In a few years she will grow up and I will grow old. She probably will start her own family and I will ewentually die. Then all of us will be dead. These few moments we have now is like an island in endless emptiness. I wish it could happen again.

I feel the same way, and my daughter is only 16 months old. I have a successful career as an interior designer, a wonderful husband and an active social life.

Reading your story made me realize that this is depression, which I have battled most of my adult life. I thought these were normal feelings but I am beginning to see that they are negative, repetitive thoughts that are not necessarily true.

I hope that my realization helps you. I always find it helpful to put a name to it. I plan to call my therapist in the morning.

I, too, have been grieving the loss of by child's boyhood into teenage hood. I was ok until last week and all of a sudden i looked at him w/new eyes. He has gotten so much taller, his face has matured, and his personality and interests are different. i have cried for days, can't sleep, or eat.

I know what you mean. It hit me like a ton of bricks on my daughter's 3rd birthday so hard that I cried...
Then again on her first day of school, again on her graduation, and again on her 18th birthday. Lol. I was soooo happy I accomplished her milestones with her, but at the same time I would get extremely depressed because she was growing up. I think it's a normal feeling to be sad your children are growing up so fast, but you just have to accept they are their own person and you shouldn't hinder their development for selfish purposes. It took me so long to accept this, but now I can and can say I'm a proud mother of a 23 year old woman and grandmother to my precious 1 year old.

All of a sudden with my second child going to secondary school I find myself surplus to social requirements. Tom (15) and Katie (12) spend time on their own. So much more self reliant than I was at either age. They now take interest as intrusion and would never now dream of just going out to the shops with me. I even have to be proud from a distance. It has made me rethink my relationship with my own parents and how I made them feel as I struck out as an individual. It seems a sort of 'parent puberty'.

We have 2 daughters, ages 18 and 14. Our 18 year old is in college and works full time. Our 14 year old is in sports and has lots of friends. Both seem to be well adjusted kids. It's me that's having the problem. They both wish to remain private on so many issues. They exclude me from a lot of conversations and insight in all that's going on. I feel helpless, and lost. I feel as if sometimes all I am good for to them is a nice cozy home, clean clothes and homecooked meals. I work from home, and so I feel maybe that is part of my problem. I need to get out more, get out from underneath them. My husband and I have been married 25 years, and have date nights and a wonderful marriage. Our kids however, are causing me to have depression. I'm not sure what to do or how to cope.

I am around this age, and my kids are a bit younger but it's more time for me to move on that makes me sad. We need the money, so I must go back to work in a big way. I miss the baby years, when you walk them in carriages and have all the time in the world to explore, talk, play a game on the floor. I have well adjusted active children, they play many sports, have friends, and everyday there is a reason to ship them off here or there and I must constantly remind myself this is a good thing, this is exactly what I wanted...remember??!! Friends, activity, healthy life style, physical activity, I'm supposed to be happy, right???? I went back to school. I will go back to work soon. I need to move on, I need to continue to be that role model, see.... women work, women can support themselves, we need money and I can do that...see? Dont feel you are a victim because you are women, right? women are smart, are not maids or second class citizens...right? right??? Do I need to show them this, or prove it to myself? I do find, when I have homework, I'm not sad, I'm too busy to be sad. The money I will earn, I can still use to continue to help them and/or not require them to help me when I'm older. This has helped me tremendously. Working toward a career has been kind of a crazy thing to do, but for me, it helps. alot.

Don't be sad be happy! Try to use your elder years for relaxation meditation and just having fun Sure you'll miss your children but they can't stay kids forever they need to grow up and have there own lifeGet a pet like a puppy or kitten to help and always have the best time with your daughters try to never miss a moment of fun and happiness good luck!

i always tell people who say "grow up" when i get upset about this and i respond "I have grown up, i have just not grown apart" -said and quoted, by 13 year old, Winnie C.

for me its the other way around :( im 13 and me and my sister had to move out of my fathers house when we were only six :'( due to divorcement and now all i can imagine is me and my sister running up and down the halls when we were toddlers. my dad is forty seven now :'( and its just so sad. i was looking at pictures yesterday of from when we were kids. and it just reminded me of my home and where i grew up. and its so hard :'( to remember where i first went to school :'( and where i would have had such a great life. i just cant take it anymore! :'(

I am 67 years old and felt very similar when the time grew closer for my children to be launched to lead their own lives. Having the house filled with children is a wonderful thing for most of us Mothers. It is difficult to go into another phase of life as they get launched into their own lives. I don't know if this will help or not, but you will be blessed when your children find their own independence as you did your job as a Mom well. That is what it is all about. It is always difficult to embrace the challenges of change in our lives, and I think it is normal to grieve during that period. It will take time for you to move on with your life too. You will have to try many different things to fulfill yourself, but you must take that step because it will free your children to be who they need to be in this life - that is the biggest gift that a Mother can give their children. So even though your heart aches for the changes you must face, don't let your children see your pain - as that will not bring them closer to you, it will push them away. They all want us to be happy too, and don't want to feel responsible for our happiness. They need to be free.

I love your advice. I was also feeling very sad about my children growing up. It is so hard to let them go, but your words have enlightened me and made me realize that letting go is the best thing a mother can do for their grown children. I do hope it well get easier. I am going to be strong and give them the freedom to become the independent adults they need to be.

I'm 42 and have two daughters 10 and 13. I have been searching forever for information on this subject. You are not alone! Sometimes my feelings are so overwhelming it brings tears to my eyes just to look at them. I love them so much! I feel like my inability to let go of their 'littleness' has had a negative effect on my relationship with them and my ability to be a good roll model. My husband is very close with them and supportive of me in my constant inner struggle. It sure helps with my relationship with them but not much with my depression.

I have developed a bit of a hoarding problem, holding on to clothes, toys, school work, etc. Thankfully, nothing out of control but I consider this a big part of my depression and constant fight to let go. I just want to be able to understand and embrace all of my girls' phases. Don't get me wrong, I'm there for them always... I just don't know how to deal with these feelings of desperately missing them in their cute, little, excited for everything and anything toddler and little girl phases. I don't think our culture is much help these days. My girls are surrounded by kids who are growing up too fast and over booked. Family time is hard to come by. Trying to keep family nights throughout the week, hiking, camping, and connecting with nature together are some of my strategies to keep me busy and connected to them. I do have to compromise and play the occasional video game with them :/. I kiss them when they leave, and again when they come home, but at the end of the day when they're sleeping in their beds I swear they look one and four again.... sigh and a sniff....