How Do We Know When Loneliness Is Part of Normal Development or Becomes a Problem?

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We have two daughters. One is 13, the other is 17. We continue to learn about loneliness and its impact. We are witnessing it with both daughters. When is it problematic versus normal development? Alright, so really interesting question. So, loneliness in general. Uh, when, when we say loneliness, it generally draws us towards people in social settings. But if loneliness continues un uh, unaddressed, it can become depression, which means I start to isolate away from others. And the reason why I do that is because I don't trust others anymore. I don't believe in them. I don't believe they're safe anymore using that concept of safety. And so when I pull away into loneliness, it become, it can become depression. The, the two can be separate because when I'm lonely, I, it is actually a part of me that wants to connect. And socially bond, that's how we're actually created, is socially bonding. Uh, that's what, that's who we are. But when it gets to the point where I don't trust, I don't like, I don't believe, and if I've been hurt, bullied, ridiculed, I can become lonely, depressed. And that's where it becomes problematic. The way that we want to address that is in our relationships with them. The foundation still can occur of healthy relationships can still be in our home, but then we want to think outside of our home friendships in the community, whether that is in the school community, whether that is in some act group or activity outside of the, uh, our community. It could be a religious group. It could be a social activity group, but we want our children interacting as much as possible. So we might invite their friends or a friend over for a pizza party. We might invite them to go on a mini vacation. With this camping, what we're trying to do is we're trying, trying to create an environment where our children can interact with their peers in an healthy environment. So if we're starting to see that loneliness creep in and we're not sure what to do with it, then we want to openly address it. Things that you can do in your family eating together is, is such a fundamentally valuable experience because while you're eating together, we can ask questions openly and we can talk back and forth like something that we do in our home. Hey, what was the best thing that happened today? What was the most challenging thing that happened today? And walk through me, walk through your day with me. What, how did school go? My son will often say, which, which, which period? Well, third period. Well, third period's math. Well, we did this activity. How did it go? Eh, it was okay. Uh, you know, okay. How about history? How was history? That's sixth period. Well, we had really fun. I love history. And, and, and again, they're, now they're talking. We want them to be able to talk because those are the moments that we begin to treasure. It's this time together, opening up and talking. I am going to suggest that we're actually talking less in our homes than maybe we have ever because we've got these devices that we don't, uh, take the time to have more meaningful conversations. So we, we wanna model that in our home with our 13 and 17-year-old daughters. And we wanna then invite a bigger tent, uh, where that could be friends and other peers where we can really invite them to come play games, to do things. Uh, the more connection we have, the less likely we are to be depressed and anxious.

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Dr. Kevin Skinner