A new survey highlights the impact of loneliness on parents of young children, particularly those on lower incomes.
Over half (56%) of parents with children under five experience loneliness at least some of the time, with twice as many parents on the lowest incomes saying they often feel isolated from others as parents on the highest incomes (33% compared to 16%), according to a survey by Coram Family and Childcare.
The study also reveals that the issue significantly affects more women than men, with twice as many mothers than fathers saying they often feel left out (30% v 16%), as well as younger parents, with nearly two-fifths (37%) of parents aged 18-24 often feeling a lack of companionship, compared to a fifth (21%) of parents aged 25-34.
Parents highlight two distinct times when loneliness is most prevalent – around the birth of a baby, particularly if the mother or baby have health problems and is unable to get out of the house easily; and when the children are older but haven’t yet started school. The report finds that loneliness can get worse before it gets better, improving when children reach school age. 18% of parents whose youngest child is under one often feel left out, rising to 41% of parents whose youngest is two and falling to just 8% whose youngest child is five.
The new research will inform Coram Family and Childcare’s new project to support groups of local parents to work together to combat loneliness while their child is young. It follows a poll by workingmums.co.uk which found many mums often go for months without seeing their closest friends.
Claire Harding, Head of Coram Family and Childcare, said: “Being a parent is a hard job and it’s even harder if you feel lonely or isolated. We’re really concerned that over half of parents of young children feel lonely at least some of the time, and that it’s worse for low income parents. We’re need proper investment to make sure all families can access activities for themselves and their young children, so that everyone gets the benefits of friendship and social support.”