It can be hard to know how to support the parents in your life, especially when you’re not a parent yourself. When friends or family members start having children, you may not know what you can do to help, especially if they seem busy all the time with their family. However, there are many different ways you can support the parents you know and show them that you care for them.
It can be frustrating when you don’t have children and the parents around you spend all of their time with theirs. However, being empathetic towards their situation is the best thing you can do for them. Even if they don’t talk about it, they likely wish they could come out for drinks or catch up over coffee with you, except they need to look after their children instead.
Avoid offering unsolicited advice on how to be a parent; they probably hear all the time how they’re ‘supposed’ to be parenting, but ultimately every family is different and they know what works for them. Instead, focus on listening and show that you understand what they’re going through. Try and imagine yourself in the other person’s shoes.
Being a parent can be exhausting, tricky, and stressful. A little bit of empathy goes a long way and reassuring the parents that you know is a great way to support them as they figure out parenthood.
Don’t hesitate to reach out
Children are a handful. The parents you know probably want to speak to you and spend time with you, but after caring for their children all day and night they may not have any energy left to keep up with their other relationships.
Don’t be afraid to reach out first and check in on them. Be aware that they might take some time to get back to you, but if you’re the first one to reach out then they at least know you’re thinking about them and would like to offer support.
Even if the parents you know don’t want to open up and talk to you about all of the problems that they’re facing, just talking with another person who isn’t in their household can boost their mood and remind them that people are there for support.
Keep them company
Research has shown that it’s common for parents to get lonely; 56% of parents with children under 5 years old feel lonely, and 76% feel left out most of the time. It can be hard for parents to spend time with their friends or family when they’re responsible for children.
See if you can offer your company in a way that’s convenient for both of you. Maybe you can go for a quick walk in the park, with or without their children, or you could pop by after work one day once they’ve put their kids to bed.
The important thing is that you communicate. The parents in your life probably don’t want to admit that they’re lonely, as there’s still a lot of pressure to be a ‘perfect’ parent, but remind them that talking through their worries can help and reassure them that you don’t expect them to be ‘perfect’ around you.
Do them a favour
Just because you have friends who are parents doesn’t mean you need to act as a free babysitter for them. You’re under no obligation to say ‘yes’ if they ask you to look after their children. However, if you’d like to babysit their children for an evening so that they can have some time to themselves, they probably won’t say no.
Doing them a favour doesn’t have to be as big as babysitting, though. Maybe you could pick up some food for them whilst you’re out at the supermarket if they don’t have time to get out themselves. Perhaps you could give one parent a lift to an appointment if the other parent isn’t around.
Small acts of kindness can make a world of difference to the parents in your life. There’s no expectation for you to sacrifice your time to help them, but if you find yourself with a bit of free time and have the capacity, it could be worth asking if they’d like any help.
Final thoughts from Kami
Being a parent is difficult, but it’s also difficult to be surrounded by parents when you don’t have children yourself. They may seem like completely different worlds. It’s worth remembering that the parents you know are doing their best but may need some help along the way. Don’t be afraid to reach out to them and support them as they undergo the journey of parenthood.