Parenthood, a source of loneliness and isolation?

Parenthood, a source of loneliness and isolation?

Parents are looking for support to feel more accomplished and fulfilled in their role. In any case, this is what a new study carried out by American researchers who were interested in the mental health and well-being of men and women with children reveals. We learn in particular that parenthood is, in their eyes, a source of isolation and loneliness, as well as exhaustion.

Researchers at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center conducted their latest survey of American parents, revealing that most respondents felt isolated, exhausted, and alone. “I work from home full time and have a job where I'm on camera a lot and call people on Zoom a lot. However, you don't get a chance to chat, so you don't get a chance to ask how your kids are doing and how things are going.“, explains Anne Helms, mother of two young children in Columbus, in a press release. And to specify: “Some days I have the most chatter or idle discussions with my dog, because I work alone“.

60% of parents say they are exhausted by their responsibilities

Among the main findings of the survey, we learned that two thirds of the parents surveyed see the demands of parenthood as a source of isolation and loneliness, and that more than 60% say they are exhausted by these responsibilities. “Loneliness has been shown to affect both physical and mental health. Cardiovascular disease, depression, anxiety, cognitive decline and even the immune system can be affected by loneliness. In fact, one study found that prolonged social isolation was equivalent to smoking about 15 cigarettes a day“, explains Kate Gawlik, a researcher on parental burnout and herself a mother of four young children.

The survey also reveals that an overwhelming majority of parents surveyed (79%) would like to get in touch with other parents, outside the home and professional settings. Nearly four in ten respondents (38%) also consider that they are not supported in their role as parents.

An observation that Kate Gawlik did not take lightly, since the researcher founded a six-week parenting program inviting parents who wish to share their daily worries and challenges, and find support and comfort. “Having someone you can relate to and that feeling of connection with someone else who is facing the same situation as you can be very powerful in combatting feelings of loneliness.“, underlines the scientist.

Get out of loneliness through parent groups

A feeling shared by Anne Helms: “I believe this gives us the means to create a better future for our children. I think it makes us healthier, and connecting with other parents and helping out when needed is immeasurable. It makes you a better employee. It makes you a better spouse, a better parent, a better friend. I think it enriches our lives…just like being a parent, but it makes you better“.

To alleviate this feeling of loneliness and isolation, Kate Gawlik recommends looking for parenting groups online, but not only… It could also be book clubs, play groups, recreational sports leagues, for example. example, which allow everyone to break out of this isolation and discuss with other parents before organizing, why not, physical meetings.