It would be negligent not to bring up the subject of loneliness when working through all the issues that affect single parents. After all, I think that simple loneliness can be blamed for all sorts of poor decisions on the part of many a single parent! We might date people we shouldn’t, or make unhealthy choices in what we eat or do—all because we feel so darn lonely. Now, I am of the opinion that loneliness is completely normal for a single parent—but it doesn’t HAVE to be necessary…
There are several ways to cope with loneliness, but I think the first step is to not be afraid of being alone. It takes a great deal of character to get used to the sound of one’s own voice and to let go of all the societal expectations and pressures and the constraints of ego that make us feel like we are less of a person because we are un-partnered. That is something we do to ourselves.
Next, I think it is helpful to identify your triggers or your trigger times. Do you get lonely in the evenings after your child is in bed; is it on weekends or during holidays? Knowing what it is that triggers bouts of loneliness can help you to be prepared and find ways of coping before it comes on.
Having a well-rounded life—with enough social activity and a good balance of personal and work interests—is also important. I don’t think that a person needs to keep herself busy and surrounded by people all the time, in fact, that might not be the best thing for your personal growth anyway, but having friends and family to do things with is important. You can also take advantage of your time as a single parent to pursue personal interests: take a class, develop hobbies, find out what YOU really enjoy and what gives you pleasure and inspiration. Nurturing your own individual interests is one of the gifts that single parenthood can give us—and a great way to ward off loneliness.
Make sure that your kids are not your only human contact. Single parents need adult friends and adult activities too. Even if you don’t have a spouse to share in those every day details, you can share your life with friends and other adults and this can help keep those feelings of loneliness away as well.