A quarter (24%) of British parents feel lonely and isolated, regularly feeling cut off from friends and other sources of support, according to new findings released today by charity Action for Children
The research, of more than 2,000 parents, has unearthed a shocking scale of loneliness that for nearly a quarter (22%) of people has become worse since becoming a parent. The importance of having a support network to rely on was also highlighted by parents the charity spoke to, with more than half (57%) saying it is particularly important to have friends who are also parents.
Jan Leightley, managing director of operations at Action for Children, said:
'It’s troubling to see that so many parents feel isolated.
Having a network that you can call on is vital, to help celebrate your child’s achievements and share those funny moments or the tougher times, which all parents face.
Local services like our children’s centres can offer a real lifeline to parents who feel isolated – somewhere to meet and make friends. Staff there won’t judge if you drop in looking for support, and you can take part in activities like play sessions or parenting classes.'
Other findings include:
- More than a third (37%) of parents aged 18-34 regularly feel cut off compared to less than a tenth (8%) of those aged 55+.
- A third (32%) of parents with three or more children regularly feel cut off, compared to the 26% who have two and the 22% who only have one.
Susan*, 37, a secretary from Worcestershire has an 18 week old baby, she went through a difficult pregnancy and birth and developed post-natal depression. She told Action for Children:
'Being a parent is a massive responsibility, but unlike other responsibilities you aren’t taught how to do it. People kept telling me that instinct would soon kick in but it took about three months for me to get to know my baby.'
Susan didn’t have many friends who were pregnant or had new born babies and because of a caesarean section she couldn’t drive for 6 weeks, all this combined to leave her feeling isolated. Fortunately she found out about her local Action for Children children’s centre and started attending sessions there. Susan continued:
'I was apprehensive about going at first because I worried I wouldn’t fit in with the other mums but I soon realised that we were all in the same boat. Getting out of the house and going to the centre gives me a sense of achievement and it stops me sitting at home feeling alienated.'Full tables of the findings are available here.