Children, most of us… adore them, even if they aren’t our own; cute, bubbly tiny gifts who are usually melodically excited in their communication with us. However, even though they come in adorable packages and are supposed to be a positive entity in our lives, those vibrant parcels still come packed with an abundance of stress. No matter how much we love them or appreciate their presence in our lives, they ultimately will be a source of stress from the first day they enter our world.

Parental stress is a real issue and a subject that has been present for centuries or perhaps even since the beginning of human kind, but it has only been openly discussed as a problem in the last hundred years. The subject has been an issue for centuries, as evidenced by the oldest boarding school in the United States dating back to 1744, West Nottingham Academy in Colora, MD.

Along with its caste and social significance, boarding school was an affluent family’s answer to delegating the stress of raising children to someone else. Those of us who could not afford an alternative method of child rearing have had to find creative ways to retain our sanity.

Jennifer Senior, a contributing editor at New York Magazine, states in her Ted Talk: “The parenting section of the bookstore is overwhelming—it’s “a giant, candy-colored monument to our collective panic.” As she puts it, “Why is parenthood filled with so much anxiety? Because the goal of modern, middle-class parents—to raise happy children—is so elusive.” She also referenced a book written in 1957 titled, “Parenthood as Crisis,” by E. E. LeMasters and its focus was on the family as a “social system” that was impacted by stresses from within the family system and outside the family system. The theory being that each child, from first to last, brings with it an event similar to a family crisis.

Parental stress happens for many reasons, a lack of time, resources and money are usually the main issues. Parents who don’t have extended family present or who have limited financial resources usually have higher stress levels. “Studies have also shown that ethnic minority parents report significantly higher levels of parenting stress due to structural disadvantages such as lower income, single parenthood, and assimilation/acculturation (Nomaguchi & House, 2012).”

The Point…

The point of this blog is to validate your stress and confirm that you are not alone in the feeling of being overwhelmed. If the subject was all in your head, there wouldn’t be a myriad of authors filling blogs, book shelves and radio talk shows with remedies for your stress. Parental stress is real and you have millions of other parents experiencing the effects on their health and well being.

So what can you do about it? The Child Development Institute website has some very good advice to follow and they state, “Parenting can be very stressful. Whether you are a stay at home parent or a working parent, a single parent or a married parent, mother or father, parent of one child or several children; remaining cool, calm and full of energy can help get you through the day.”
Read more on the Child Development Institute Website or follow them on Twitter and Facebook.

Hopefully, you’ll take the time for yourself to find the best method to help you retrieve and retain your sanity.

The final installment of this series will relate to professional stress that child care providers may experience. Check back here next month for more information on addressing professional stress.