Loneliness affects both single mothers and single fathers. Although the single parent may have other adult relationships in addition to the relationship with his or her children, the very situation of being a single parent opens the opportunity for loneliness to settle in. Let’s look at some of the reasons loneliness infiltrates into the life of a single parent:
The primary caregiver of the children experiences loneliness through the despair over the loss of a partner or the stress of not having a partner to offer support and take on a share of the work involved in parenting. A single parent has to devote more of their time to focusing on the needs of the children and on providing for them. There is less time to seek and develop new relationships. It is common for a single parent to feel that no one will ever fulfill the empty space in their family. The single parent might feel much less likely to be desired by another person when that other person would have to commit to so much more than the standard adult relationship. This feeling can cause the single parent to close up.
Special occasions can remind the single parent of what it was like to experience that event with a partner. Even simple, everyday events can inspire a wish that there was a partner to share them with. The children are loved, and the time spent together is enjoyable and filling in its own way. Yet, a single parent may feel a separate sort of emptiness that could only be filled with a close connection to another individual on an adult level.
If a single mom or single dad is not the primary caregiver over his or her children, then there is room for yet more loneliness. While possibly experiencing the loneliness of not having a partner, the emptiness of no longer having his or her children around everyday can lead to a severe feeling of loneliness. It may not be possible for the single parent to overcome this empty space or to replace it, and when compounded with the reasons the single parent no longer sees his or her child or children each day, the sense of loneliness becomes more profound and more likely to be detrimental to his or her emotional health.
In summary, a single parent experiences a sharp sense of loneliness due to the complexities of forming new romantic relationships with children involved and because caring for the children or missing the presence of the children takes up so much of the single parent’s focus.