Most parents don’t end up spending much time alone, especially when their children are young. But, even if they never actually find themselves alone, these same parents are certainly susceptible to loneliness.
Loneliness occurs when we feel socially distant or isolated from others. Parents who maintain positive relationships with their children may not have a lot of extra time to develop friendships outside of the family. That being said, if you have a friend who is a parent and is suffering from feelings of loneliness, here are a few things you can do to lend a hand.
It can be difficult for anyone who is feeling lonely to ask for help. This is especially true of people who are shy or not very self-confident, who may find it difficult to reach out to people in the first place.
If you suspect that a friend is feeling a little isolated, let them know that you’re someone they can talk to. Call or text them every now and then to ask how things are going, rather than waiting for them to get in touch with you. Having someone to keep in contact with consistently will help to alleviate their loneliness.
One of the main reasons parents typically experience loneliness is that the responsibilities of being a parent don’t leave them much time to socialize with others. If you’re comfortable with caring for children, you might offer to take care of their kids for the day (or even for an hour or two) so that they can get out and unwind. Even the occasional chance for some kid-free time will give them the opportunity to get out and connect with other people.
Group activities are a great cure for loneliness. Not only do they give everyone involved a chance to feel less isolated, they also help to keep your friends from allowing themselves to dwell on feelings of being alone.
Obviously, you want to choose an activity or activities that you and your friends enjoy. To make things even more exciting, suggest something you’ve never done before. The best kind of activity in this case is one that re-occurs. Think along the lines of a weekly acting class or a monthly fishing trip.
Not only does this help to establish a positive social routine, it also helps to reduce any feelings of loneliness that may pop up unexpectedly. How? If the lonely parent in question has something to look forward to, chances are that he or she won’t feel quite as isolated.
If you can’t or don’t want to come up with an activity involving the whole family, helping your (parent) friend find the perfect babysitter is a thoughtful gesture. It simply means it’s one less thing he or she has to stress over before the fun begins.
The best recourse for a lonely parent is a strong support network. So, it’s vitally important to step in to lend a hand when a friend or family member is feeling down. At the same time, it’s also important to remember that being a parent is a lot of work. The last thing you want to do is overwhelm these parents with too much contact. It’s sometimes tricky to find the proper balance.
Just remember this. When it comes to helping someone overcome feelings of loneliness, being a caring friend is the absolute best thing that you can do for them. If the tables were turned, chances are they’d do the same for you.