Perhaps the only thing harder than being lonely is being the parent of a lonely child.
We all want our kids to be happy, fulfilled, and surrounded by people who love them and think they’re as wonderful as we do. Yet most kids will go through a season or two (or eight) where they experience some degree of loneliness. Unfortunately it’s just a part of life.
The good news is that lonely seasons will not last forever. Though telling our kids that may not make everything better, this truth can help us as parents to keep perspective.
And as a parent of teenagers who have walked through some lonely seasons and come out the other side, I can say with confidence that things do get better. A lonely season handled well can turn out to be just one chapter in a much bigger story.
During lonely seasons, I have given my boys a safe place to talk about their feelings, and I have listened to their heart. I have encouraged them, and assured them that everyone feels lonely sometimes. We have prayed that God would help them make friends—friends who love Jesus and who would be a good influence and a fun companion. Then I have encouraged them to just keep busy doing the things that are before them: To be be great brothers. To do their very best in school. To practice music, and pursue hobbies and use their time to grow in a hundred different ways.
The true hidden blessing is that lonely seasons can provide our kids (and all of us) with a great opportunity to become very best friends with Jesus. My boys learned to read their Bibles and journal their prayers, and to literally talk to Jesus like a very best friend. He is, after all, the very best friend anyone could ever have.
I assured my boys that if they just kept doing the next right thing, one day their lonely season would be a thing of the past. I promised they’d come out the other side stronger, smarter, and closer to Jesus.
Well, now that those boys have grown up a few years, and come out the other side, I smile at God’s faithfulness: My sons did grow strong and smart … they did learn new hobbies and they grew very close to Jesus.
And indeed, over time God answered their friend-prayers too: They now have plenty of friends, and a very full, very social life. They also now have confidence that if they find themselves in another lonely season, they will get through that one too.
If your son is in the midst of a lonely season, these four tips should help get you both through it!
- Talk about it. Don’t hide your feelings. Loneliness is real and bringing it out in the open is healthy and good.
- Keep perspective. Remember that everyone goes through lonely seasons, and trust that this season will not last.
- Keep busy! This is your time to find passions, train in sports, learn new things, and yes … do well in school. Make these days count!
- Pray. God knows your heart and He knows who would make a great friend for you. Trust him to bring the right people into your life at the right time.
Be blessed as you follow Jesus and trust Him to help your kids through every season you face!
Very timely post. One of my teen boys is experiencing this type of season!
I’m so glad the timing was good. Sending prayers up on your son’s behalf now. 🙂
Thank you, Monica for sharing your wisdom with us!
Oh I am honored to share! 🙂 XO
Could not come at a better time. My middle son is having an extremely difficult time right now. (It breaks my heart)! We are trying to get /work through it together. Thank you for sharing. It helps him know he’s not alone. 🙂
I’m so sorry, Kelly. Like I said in the post, I’m pretty sure it hurts our heart more than our kids even…Hang in there. I have great confidence it will get better. I’ll pray for your son now. 🙂
This was good to read, although it’s my daughter who’s struggling to find good friends. It’s good to hear that others struggle with it too, and that, indeed, Jesus does not leave us alone.
I’m so sorry, Sarah. I had a few lonely times growing up myself (didn’t we all?) and yes, girls go through it all the same…And I have great faith that your daughter too will find good friends in time. Praying for her (and you!) now. xo
Thank you, Monica, for these helpful, important words! I appreciate your message of the importance of praying for the right people to come into our children’s lives. I will remember this for my own son as he approaches middle school. This certainly was true for me during my teen years, that there were seasons of loneliness but eventually they led to finding friends who really affirmed my faith and shared my values. Thank you!
so true Wendy! Looking back to my own childhood, I only wish I had been more patient (and wise. :)) Much love to you and your sweet son, too!
I have two boys and have experienced this with both during their early pre-teen and teen years. It’s heartbreaking. I think both of my boys have taken after me in the love language of quality time, because looking back, I can see that they were just wanting someone to spend time with them.
They did get through it, but I think I could have done better at noticing those times and making a point to fill up their tanks, so to speak. Although, the older they got, the more they desired the company of peers, so my company may not have worked anyway 🙂
However, I did talk a lot about how important it is to be comfortable with being alone, at times. I think there are many adults who struggle with being by themselves and they are miserable. We each have to have our own interests, hobbies, tasks and of course, that relationship with the Lord, to be truly fulfilled. That was the main thing I wanted my boys to learn.
Great post Monica and a subject that all moms will relate to, eventually.
Such good points, Debbie. Yes, it is super helpful to consider our kids’ individual needs (love language, etc.) and do what we can to meet them. Also I agree that learning to be ok being alone is a an important “life skill”. Even my little guy I try to encourage to just play on his own sometimes (instead of always wanting a brother to play with him.) Great point! Thanks for your thoughts and have a great weekend! 🙂 xo
I once read that in our loneliness, sometimes it feels as though we have been set aside. Aside from friends, from inclusion from the hustle and bustle of what everyone else is doing. Being set aside feels like being forgotten. But instead we should look at it as we have been set apart. Set apart to learn something about ourselves, to grow closer to Christ, to practice and grow stronger in a skill God will want to use later, or we might be set apart to just be still. Being set apart make us appreciate that we have a purpose different than the rest at this time. I’ve learned to love these periods of my life because we reap the benefit later when we least expect it 🙂
Thank you for the great tips
Karolyn, that is truly beautiful! Thank you for sharing, and I will be holding on to that to encourage others. “set apart”, yes! 🙂 Much love–
Beautifully said and very inspiring. Thank you for giving myself and others a different and positive way to view it.