Parents Feel Lonely Too: Here’s How to Cope with Parental Loneliness

Last Update on June 25, 2024 : Published on June 25, 2024

Being a parent isn’t an easy job; there are always ups and downs, moments of love, and moments of tears. However, what parents also experience – but hardly talk about – is the loneliness that comes along. The demands of raising children can lead to feelings of burnout and loneliness, even when you’re surrounded by your children and loved ones.

Parental loneliness can stem from various factors, from lack of sleep and support to feeling overwhelmed by the demands of raising children put forth by society.

In this article, we’re taking a look at what causes parents to feel lonely, what research has to say about parental loneliness, and how parents can cope with these feelings.

What Studies Say…

Recent studies have shown that a growing number of parents are reporting feelings of loneliness. This emotional distress can cause burnout, making it hard for parents to meet the demands of their roles. The Ohio State University conducted a study wherein it was found that 66% of parents feel lonely and isolated whereas 62% of parents reported experiencing burnout because of their additional responsibilities, and 38% of parents felt a lack of support. Moreover, 79% of parents expressed wanting more social contact with other parents.

A registered counselor and parenting expert, Jenny Warwick explained that,

“As you’re trying to juggle conflicting schedules and priorities, you might find your friendships are strained, and your social interactions get less. Your relationship with your partner can also change as you navigate the challenges of parenting through various ages and stages.”

She also highlighted that the changes in boundaries, communication, and even parenting style can cause feelings of isolation, worsening parental loneliness

Relationships and support from family members can also change once children enter the picture. Some may become more involved, while others might drift apart, affecting the social network of parents.

Why Do Parents Feel Lonely?

Various factors can contribute to parents feeling lonely. Becoming a parent can be a transformative experience. You may be the same person, but your identity evolves. Parenting experts believe that new parents feel a disconnect from their non-parent friends who face difficulty relating to their new lifestyle.

Caring for a baby – especially a newborn – can be isolating, with parents stuck at home between naps and feeding time. This gives new parents little to no time for adult interactions. The busyness of parental life and lack of help can only increase these feelings.

A licensed clinical psychologist, Renée Goff points out that social norms stigmatize asking for help, making parents feel that they should manage their own responsibilities, independently and without complaining.

Another factor that can contribute to parental loneliness is social media. While it’s a platform that helps you connect with other parents and parental influencers, it can increase feelings of loneliness and even make you doubt your parenting style.

Shame and guilt are common emotions to experience due to social media. Guilt that you’re not feeding your child organic food and shame for not engaging in “gentle parenting” are just some examples.

The Impact of Parental Loneliness

The impact of parental loneliness can go beyond emotional distress. A report shows that loneliness can cause serious mental and physical health issues, including;

  • A high risk of heart disease
  • An increased risk of stroke
  • An increased risk of developing dementia
  • A high risk of experiencing anxiety and depression symptoms

For new parents, loneliness can be a trigger for postpartum depression. Psychologists believe that the relationship between loneliness and depression is interconnected. If you experience depression, then you might have no motivation and energy, leading to social withdrawal. Loneliness can also make you think more negatively about yourself and your social status.

This feeling of carrying the burden of your responsibilities without social support is more likely to cause burnout. Having connections with friends and family can help you feel a sense of community and even enjoy the less enjoyable parts of becoming a parent.

Social support can also help you become more active and improve your well-being. Moreover, studies show that the more social support you have, the more likely you are to have high mental acuity, which can be helpful in the early days of parenthood when you’re dealing with a foggy brain.

How to Cope With Parental Loneliness?

Counselors and parenting experts have some sound advice for parents dealing with feelings of burnout and loneliness. Here are some ways you can cope with parental loneliness;

  • You are not alone: Know that other parents share the same feelings of loneliness that you are experiencing. This knowledge can be comforting. Parenting can be challenging but knowing that you are not alone can help you talk about your feelings and get better.
  • Form a social support network: It can be hard to reach out for help, but forming a social support network can help you feel less lonely. Try to be active in building social connections with other parents, family, and your community.
  • Remind yourself of your self-identity: Remembering your self-identity before you were a parent can also help you cope with parental loneliness. Your interests might have changed, but you haven’t. So, try to invest in yourself and remind yourself of who you were before you became a mom or a dad.
  • Set boundaries: Always make time for your hobbies. You don’t have to do everything by yourself. Set boundaries and if you’re struggling, talk to a professional. Counseling and parent support groups can help you address the feelings of loneliness you’re experiencing.
  • Take care of your health: I’m not just talking about your mental and physical health, but also your emotional health. Make sure you spend time taking care of yourself. As a parent, you might become fully involved with your child, but this doesn’t mean that you should ignore your needs. Take 30 minutes out of your day to focus on yourself.

Wrapping Up…

Parental loneliness is a real issue that we don’t talk about anymore. Just like any other mental health concern, parental loneliness can also impact your well-being and health. Knowing the causes of this loneliness and taking steps to cope with them can lead to a more fulfilling parenting experience.

Accept the challenges, seek support, and focus on your needs along with your child’s. Doing this can help you reduce the feelings of loneliness and live a healthy life.

Know that it’s OK to feel lonely as a parent, but you don’t have to experience it alone. Reach out for help if you need it and connect with other parents or your community for support. Your child matters, but so do you!

I hope this article helped you understand what parenting loneliness is and how to cope with it. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

Take Care!

About The Author

Swarnakshi Sharma
Swarnakshi Sharma

Swarnakshi is a content writer at Calm sage, who believes in a healthier lifestyle for mind and body. A fighter and survivor of depression, she strives to reach and help spread awareness on ending the stigma surrounding mental health issues. A spiritual person at heart, she believes in destiny and the power of Self. She is an avid reader and writer and likes to spend her free time baking and learning about world cultures.

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