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29th Apr 2024

New survey reveals being a parent is lonely

Jody Coffey


Loneliness has become an epidemic that ‘runs deep among parents’

According to a new survey, the majority of parents feel lonely.

In the survey, conducted by the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, it was found that modern parents are experiencing loneliness more than they are not.

Between social media and a lack of community, the mums and dads of today are feeling the full weight of their parental responsibilities feeling they have little support.

According to a survey of more than 1,000 people, 66 percent said they sometimes or even frequently feel lonely.

Similarly, 62 percent of participants admitted to feeling burned out by their parental duties and 38 percent confessed to not having any support in their role as a parent.

In line with the findings, a whopping 79 percent said they would value having connections to parents that are separate from their work and home lives.

Speaking on the survey’s results, Kate Gawlik, DNP, associate clinical professor at The Ohio State University College of Nursing, a researcher on parental burnout and a mum-of-four, said virtual interactions are not the same as in-person socialisation.

“It’s pretty obvious that there is a huge difference between a virtual meeting and being in person,” Galwik said. 

“You miss a lot of those small interactions that you’d have in the hallway. Just a lot more of that personal touch has been eliminated, and in many regards, it’s just never been infiltrated back into our society.”

She explained the detrimental impacts that loneliness can have on a person.

“Loneliness has been shown to affect both your physical and mental health.

“So anything from cardiovascular disease to depression, anxiety, cognitive decline, even your immune system can be affected when you’re lonely.

“In fact, one study showed if you are in social isolation for a prolonged amount of time, it’s equivalent to smoking about 15 cigarettes a day.”

Galwik urges any parents or guardians experiencing loneliness to push themselves to address the problem.

Although, she acknowledged that this isn’t an easy task for some and provided some recommendations for getting started.

Gawlik suggested starting by doing an online search for parent groups in their community, whether they are hosted at community centers or through their employer.

She says parents can also look for playgroups, book clubs, and recreational sports leagues or initiate talking to parents about scheduling playdates with their children’s friends from childcare.

“Parenting can feel very lonely at times, but it will be easier if you have people around who can support you,” Gawlik said.

“It can be hard to start seeking out connections because, to some degree, you will have to be vulnerable and, sometimes, it will take time and effort.

“But just take the first step.”