Are We Stressing Out Our Kids?
I recently read an article on New Scientist. A new study found that parents who experience negative stress outcomes in the form of anxiety and depression also tend to have children that get sick more often. My first reaction was: Not surprising! In October 2007, the American Psychological Association conducted a poll and found that 48% of respondents reported that their stress level had increased over the past 5 years. Work was cited more than any other stressor, with 74% of respondents indicating that work was a source of stress for them. Money was #2 (73%). As more and more people are being asked to do more with less, demands increase, which subsequently increases stress levels. This can cause the negative consequences of stress (anxiety, depression, worry, irritability) to not only affect their work lives, but to spill over into their home life as well. Since children tend to model the behavior of their parents, “stressed out” parents can lead to “stresssed out” kids. This is problematic because research has consistently shown that high levels of stress have a negative impact on the immune system, which can then lead to increased experiences of illness.
But it doesn’t stop there. Because most households are dual-earner or single-parent households, parents are responsible for work demands and for getting their kids to where they need to be. Having one child may mean playing chauffeur, but it adds even more demands on parents’ time when they have two, three, or four children’s schedules to juggle. Subsequently, the more after-school and weekend activities that children participate in, the more demands on parents’ time outside of work. Though the culture has shifted from one of single-earner households to one of dual-earner households, the way we structure our family life, in terms of extra-curricular activities, hasn’t changed much. Parents are trying to be everything to everybody. The stress associated with this can increase if parents work non-traditional schedules, which has become more common. No longer is the typical schedule 9-5; down-time may only arise in the form of sleep, and sometimes there’s not even time for that.
So, parents are “stressed out” at work and “stressed out” with non-work demands as well. Because of all of these demands on their time, they tend to cut corners. They eat poorly, fail to get sufficient exercise and sleep, and engage in other unhealthy behaviors (which they model to their children). Is it any wonder that parents are so stressed out, and that they have modeled this behavior for their children?
Listed below are links to blogs that reference this entry: Are We Stressing Out Our Kids?.
TrackBack URL for this entry: