What Parental Stress Means For You And Your Family

By: Samantha Dewitt

Updated August 28, 2020

Medically Reviewed By: Lauren Guilbeault

Do you experience stress frequently? Maybe you have a stressful job or a stressful home life, or maybe you just find yourself to be a stressed person. No matter what the cause, if you're experiencing a great deal of stress, it could be affecting your family more than you might think. That's because stress can be a learned behavior, and the effects of it are going to be a whole lot more far-reaching than you might have thought.

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Your Stress On Your Family

First, let's talk about what it means if you are stressed within the family. The chances are that stress is going to affect your personality in different ways. First, you're likely going to be more frustrated, and you're going to be more anxious. That means you're more likely to snap at your partner or your children. The result is that they don't talk to you as much or don't come to you for as much because they're afraid of upsetting you or they want to make sure that you're able to complete the tasks and things that you want to do.

You're likely going to be busy a lot because you're overwhelmed with the workload that you have. That means you'll probably spend more time working on those things and less time doing things with your family. That's going to hurt them as well because they don't get to see mommy or daddy as much as they might have before. Not seeing you means they're not getting some of the love, attention, and support that they need, throughout their lives, but especially through their younger years where they might not have as many friends to help with socialization.

The feelings and the symptoms that you're experiencing can easily be passed on to your partner and your children. That's because they see you exhibiting those things, and it causes them to worry as well. That worry may lead to them having trouble falling asleep, having trouble with headaches, feeling angry, or changing their eating habits. All of these might be things that you see in yourself as well because you're directly going through the stress. But as they witness you going through the stress, they're more likely to start feeling stress too.

Children and teens who report that their parents are stressed are more likely to feel sad, worried, or frustrated as well. Not only that but they are more likely to be overweight or obese. They're more likely to struggle throughout their childhood because they most definitely are seeing what you're going through and it's causing trouble for them. In fact, only about 14% of children reported that the stress their parents are experiencing does not affect them. That means over 80% of children are experiencing some level of symptoms and side effects as a result of their parents experiencing stress. That's a lot of children who are stressed out when they don't need to be.

Children whose parents are stressed can struggle in school, having difficulty concentrating or learning new things. They may struggle to get homework done or to even focus on what they need to be doing. They may struggle in relationships with their peers and even with friends who they used to be close with. When stress more intense amongst the adults in the family or if the situation becomes violent as a result of stress, it's possible that these problems can get even worse for your child or your teenagers.

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What Stress Does

The worst thing that stress does is that it tears apart from your family. When you're feeling stressed, and you become more irritable, more angry, more frustrated, and too busy, you're pulling away from your family. Even more than that, you're pushing them away even as you're stepping back. That can drive a wedge in the family even outside of the tempers and the frustration. But as you continue to separate yourself from your family, it can make relationships a whole lot more difficult to hold onto, not just with your partner but with your children as well.

Divorce frequently happens because of things that arise from stress. When your attitude changes and your outlook on life changes and the way that you show up for your family changes, it can most definitely lead to you and your partner splitting up. While that's likely the last thing that you want and is likely to make your stress levels increase rather than decrease, it's something that could happen and something that you want to keep in mind. If you're not actively working on resolving the stress that you experience and working with your partner to get through it, you could be causing irreparable harm to your relationship.

It's not just your relationship with your partner or your children that you have to worry about either. You could also be ruining the relationships that you have with your friends. These are the people that you should be able to turn to when you're experiencing stress. They're the people who should be able to help you relieve your stress and get on with your life. But if you're acting out in ways that are harmful to them, they may not be willing to help you at all, and you may find yourself losing friends because of what's happening in your life.

There's also the possibility of stress causing you to make mistakes with your job as well. Whether the stress comes originally from your job or whether it comes from your home life, if you're feeling too stressed, it's likely that you're not going to be performing at your best. As a result, you're going to start showing that level of stress in everything that you do. If you perform too poorly at your job it could lead to a demotion, temporary time off or even you being fired and that's going only to increase your levels of stress as well.

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Dealing With Stress

The most important thing that you can do is find a way to work through your stress and start improving your life. It's not going to be easy, and the more stress you're experiencing at the time, the harder it's going to be. If you've been letting stress build and build for a long time before you seek help you might feel like you're completely buried and the process of getting out from under it is harder than just staying where you are, but keep in mind that the stress isn't going to stay the same, it's going to keep on getting worse the longer it goes.

Find coping mechanisms that work for you and find methods to work through the stress that is going to push you on. You want to be able to enjoy your life, and if you're feeling stressed and you're not able to spend time with your friends and family, you're most definitely not enjoying your life. Finding things that help you to relieve stress, whether it's things like riding your bike or rock climbing or just coloring or meditation, is going to help you immensely.

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Getting Professional Help

The first thing you should do is find yourself a mental health professional who can help you with the process. A mental health professional should be able to work with you on the issues that you're experiencing, such as stress, and they should be able to help you start learning new coping techniques. But of course, you have to be able to find a therapist first, and that can sometimes be the hardest part of the entire process. You want someone that you can trust and feel comfortable with and when you're limited to your geographic area that's not so easy.

The best thing you can do is to start looking for a therapist entirely online. Online services are still somewhat new, but they're starting to take off for one big reason, convenience. You don't need to be limited by proximity anymore, and you don't need to worry about walking into a therapists office anymore. Rather, you can have your sessions from anywhere you want to be, whether that's a home, at a hotel on vacation, in your office or anywhere else. You just need an internet connection and a device that connects to it.

If you're not sure where you should look to find a therapist the first place you should go is BetterHelp. You're going to be more than happy with the variety of different services available and all of the different therapists that are located around the country. No matter what you need help with, you're going to find plenty of information, and you're also going to find therapists who can help you with the process. It's all about finding someone that you feel comfortable with, and that will make sure you're doing everything you can to preserve your health and wellbeing as well as that of your family.


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