In order to do this job, it is, without doubt, your families will come to trust you and want to talk openly to you about issues and problems they are having, while you are not a trained counsellor, they will see you as a safe person to talk openly too. We ask that you listen with an open mind and ear and really focus and listen to what they are saying.
Often people like to talk just to get it off their chest and the science is that once you hear your own voice say something your brain processes it in a different way, so often people are not looking for a solution as such just someone to confide in and talk to who is really listening and taking an interest, then they will often find a solution of their own.
However we understand it is human instinct to help find a solution so there is no harm in asking the question, would they like help with that, and you could find the sources of information they might need or local services of counselling etc but we also encourage you to get the parent to do their own phone calls and referrals if needed.
Never underestimate the power of a listening ear, like really listening not thinking of the next thing to say.
You could do some of your own research into being a good listener and listening skills, there is a lot of short online courses centred around this.
Sympathy is more seen as giving advice or recommendations, based on own experience /feelings.
Empathy is more exploring their feelings, finding their own possible solutions.