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!

  1. Talk about it. Don’t hide your feelings. Loneliness is real and bringing it out in the open is healthy and good.
  2. Keep perspective. Remember that everyone goes through lonely seasons, and trust that this season will not last.
  3. 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!
  4. 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!