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What to Do When I Feel Lonely as a Parent?

I want you to consider an issue most parents experience, but few would ever want to talk about with others. I’m talking about loneliness. Parenting can be lonely and worse yet we can feel guilty for feeling lonely because shouldn’t we be focusing on the needs of our children? Many times as parents, we can get so wrapped up in work, the demands of our home life, and our weekly schedules that we live in a constant state of survival with little room for friendship. 

I once knew a mother who desperately needed prayer and support to help her walk through some issues with her college-aged daughter who had seemingly walked away from the faith she was raised in for so many years. This mother would often come for counsel and support while seeking to ensure that no one else would ever hear about her struggles. She was worried about what others thought of her and her family and chose to struggle alone rather than allow others to share her burdens as Scripture teaches us (Galatians 6:2). Her isolation had led to despair. What kind of a difference would it make for her to know that others could identify with her challenges and many more could love, support, and pray for her?

The struggles of parenting are far more common than we often realize, but that does not mean we should resign ourselves to making it on our own. The reality is that unaddressed feelings of loneliness may lead us to fall into several traps as parents.

Maybe you have felt one or more of these thoughts pushing in on your heart and mind as a parent. Maybe you are a single parent who feels like others are judging your circumstances. Maybe you are worried about maintaining the illusion to others that you somehow have this parenting thing figured out. Regardless of what your struggle with loneliness has looked like, you need to remember that you are not alone. The good news is that there is hope. There is so much to gain as parents when we move out of isolation. It begins when we recognize our need for others and begin taking steps toward community. Here are some key questions to help you take those steps:

How engaged are you in the local church? We can’t expect to engage in a true biblical community if we are not showing up and engaging with other believers on a weekly basis. Gathering for worship is the best place to start, but we also need to be involved in the lives of others through discipleship communities or men’s and women’s groups. The best place to begin looking for meaningful relationships is through those God has called us to share life with in the church.

Do you have a mentor? The idea of a mentor can feel like something a few select people have the privilege of finding, but there is a sense where mentoring should be taking place consistently in each of our lives as parents. Is there a mom or dad ahead of you in life’s race that you can ask questions or learn from their experiences? Who do you respect as a parent and would be willing to open up to about your family life? Invite them to coffee, talk on the phone, or find any way to engage them not just in times of crisis, but in a way you would feel ongoing support.

Are you engaging other parents? No doubt there are often challenges to this one, but sometimes we do it to ourselves. We can sit at our teen’s ballgame and assume the people around us don’t want to engage us at the same time they may be thinking the same thing about us! Step out in conversations and you’ll be amazed what great friendships may develop along the way.

Begin today to pray that God would encourage you through the lives of others, then look for ways to intentionally engage with other parents. You may never realize the blessing this could be in the life of other parents as well. It may take some trust and even vulnerability, but it will be well worth it to know you don’t have to face the challenges of parenting alone.