6 Causes Of Family Stress And What You Can Do About It

By Corrina Horne |Updated April 11, 2022
CheckedMedically Reviewed By Lauren Guilbeault, LMHC

When people say that relationships are difficult, they aren't just talking about romantic relationships. Life is stressful, and that can impact multiple areas of your life. One of these areas is within your family. Family relationships bring with them many different challenges because multiple people are involved. There are many different causes of family stress, and it can easily leave you feeling overwhelmed. But, there are things that you can do to help them.

Common Causes Of Family Stress

These are some of the most common causes of family stress that American families are facing.

  1. Financial Stress

This is a common cause of stress for both individuals and families. When you're in a family, you have other people than just yourself that you're concerned about being able to provide for. When you have children, this can add even more stress. Not only do you need to be able to have the finances that you need to give them the necessities like food, shelter, and keep them healthy, but there are also things that you want to be able to get them.

You may want to be able to go on family vacations or put your children into sports or extracurricular activities. You may want to be able to have one parent stay at home when your children are young but don't have the finances to be able to afford to do that.

Or, you may be a single parent trying to make ends meet. This can cause a lot of stress as you work hard to provide for them in necessity is that your family needs while still having time to spend with them.

  1. Relationship Problems

Marriage is very difficult. And as a relationship progresses and children are added to the picture if it adds new levels of difficulty. For example, as schedules fill up, it's easy for couples to start to lose touch with each other. They don't spend time alone together, and they begin to forget why they wanted to be with each other in the first place.

Couples can also run into problems with how they handle their finances or what parenting style they use. Relationships are made up of two people who have different opinions about things and aren't always going to agree. When you have to run a family together, it's important to be able to work past these differences and establish a way to move forward. But, that doesn't mean that there's not a lot of stress involved.

If parents decide to split up, this can add even more stress to the family for both the parents and the children. It will be a stressful time of learning how to deal in a new situation and will be a stress for everyone involved.

  1. Health Problems

If someone in the family has health issues, this can add stress to the entire family. It can make it either difficult for parents to work because they're ill or they are needed to take care of an ill child, which can then add financial stress to the family as well.

Stress can compact as the family has to find a new level of normal to keep operating in. Illness can wreak havoc to schedules that are already established and can leave everyone having to figure out how to adjust. It's a difficult time not only for the person that's ill but for the entire family as they learn how to operate in their new norm.

  1. Death

Death within the family causes a lot of stress within the group. Grief is a difficult process to work through, and not everyone in the family will be working through it at the same time or in the same way. This can make it difficult for people to talk with each other and comfort each other.

Death of a parent can also leave the other parent having to figure out how to pick up the pieces of the family and hold everyone together. They have to learn how to fill both parenting roles. Or, if the family member that passed away was the glue that was holding everyone together, it will be difficult for people to figure out how to continue with the family dynamic.

This isn't something that you will be able to move over from quickly either. You will have to go through the first of each holiday, birthdays, and other special events trying to learn what life looks like now without that person.

  1. Moving

When a family relocates, it can cause a lot of stress within the group. Some members may be excited about the move, while others are unhappy. There's a lot to do when getting ready to move, which means that everyone is going to see their routine interrupted. This can be difficult for people to deal with.

Relocating to another city or state can also have long-term stress on the entire family. Each person will need to make new friends and connections. There could be new jobs and schools to go to. The weather and culture could be different.

It's a great time to connect in close with your family, but the stress of the move can leave people with short tempers and many mixed emotions.

  1. Adding A New Family Member

Adding to your family is exciting, whether it's a new baby or adopting an older child. But, not everyone in the family will feel the same. If you already have children, they may experience feelings of sibling rivalry and jealousy. This can add stress to the family as children learn their new roles, and parents learn how to adjust to a new child in the family.

If you have a baby, it can add to the stress because you might not be getting as much sleep as you need, which can make a lot of things difficult.

There Are Other Causes Of Stress

These causes family stress or just some examples of the most common situations. This is not by any means an all-inclusive list. If your family is struggling and it's for the reason that's not listed here, it doesn't mean that you're alone in your struggle. A quick search online can be all it takes to find other families that are dealing with similar stresses to what you're dealing with.

What You Can Do With About Family Stress

You don't have to let the situations that are causing your family stress continue to get to you. It's important to address the stress that you're facing, because leaving it as it is can lead to additional stress, including heart attacks. Here are some things you can do that could help:

Talk To A Therapist

If you have a lot of stress that you're dealing with, the first thing you should consider is talking to a therapist. Some family therapists will meet with your entire family at once. But, if you don't want to go that route, simply talking to a therapist on your own can be exactly what you need to determine the best way to remove the stress from your family.

Don't think that you need to deal with your family stress on your own. Talking to an experienced therapist can go a long way in helping your family work through their stress.

Talk About It Together

If your family is under a lot of stress, it's not uncommon to want to avoid talking about it, especially if you don't like confrontation. However, getting the entire family on the same page can go a long way in reducing stress in the situation.

If there are going to be changed in your family, or if your schedule needs to be adjusted, it's important that everyone be on the same page. Having family discussions can give everyone a chance to voice their concerns and have questions answered. This can be a good way to add security within the family, so no one thinks that secrets are being kept. It's also a good way to see what other members of the family can help each other and to be able to support each other.

However, it's important that when you are talking together that there are rules and boundaries established to keep communication healthy. You don't want this to be a time that ends in fighting, shouting, and arguments.

Focus On Yourself First

You cannot control how other people are going to act, behave, and respond within your family. But you can choose your responses. This is why it's important that you learn to focus on yourself first. If you have children, it's also important that you set a good example for them.

Finding Things The Family Enjoys Together

Spending a positive time with one another can go a long way in helping you to overcome stress. Just because you're in a difficult situation at the time does not mean that you cannot enjoy spending time together. This could be as simple as renting a movie to watch together, going on vacation together, or playing a game in the backyard. Look for ways to spend time doing stuff together that everyone can participate in.

Family stress is completely normal. Don't feel like your family is alone in your struggle. But, don't allow yourself to stay there either. Look for ways that you can improve your situation and talk to a therapist to learn strategies to deal with stress together.

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