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Parenting Stress: Causes, Effects, and What to Do About It

Medically reviewed by Ruben Macapinlac, MD, DPPS · Pediatrics · Philippine Pediatric Society

Written by Jan Alwyn Batara · Updated Sep 05, 2022

    Parenting Stress: Causes, Effects, and What to Do About It

    For a parent, nothing beats seeing their children – their pride and joy –happy and healthy. But making that into a reality takes a lot of hard work and it’s not uncommon to see parents, especially new ones and first-timers, struggling with parenting stress.

    What is parenting stress?

    Just like everyone else, it’s normal for parents to feel stressed out every now and then. After all, taking care of the family and an entire household is not an easy thing to do. Some parents even manage to work a full-time job in addition to caring for their family.

    However, doing all of these things without any time for yourself can lead to what’s known as “parenting stress.” This is a situation wherein parents can have a lot of negative feelings, and they might feel that they can’t cope with the responsibilities that they have as a parent.

    These negative feelings can extend to how they care for their children and their family, so it’s important to find out the cause of stress, and to do something about it.

    What effects can parenting stress have?

    Stress can have very significant effects not just on a person’s health, but also their relationships. And for parents, this can affect the way they care for their children, as well as their partner.

    Here are some of the effects that stress can have on parents:

    • Headache
    • Anxiety
    • Depression
    • Sleeping problems
    • Overeating or undereating
    • Fatigue
    • Irritability
    • Chest pains
    • Lack of sex drive
    • Upset stomach

    The effects of stress aren’t only limited to parents. It can also have an effect on their family, especially on children. Some of the effects of too much parenting stress on children include:

    • Children can feel rejected
    • They can start to show aggressive behavior
    • They might have a lower self-esteem
    • It’s possible that they withdraw from society

    Aside from this, parenting stress can sometimes cause parents to hurt their child physically or emotionally. They might start “taking out” their anger or frustration on their children, or even their partner, which can cause problems in the family.

    One study conducted in Italy found that because of the COVID-19 outbreak, parents experienced even more stress. They found it hard to deal with the stress, especially under quarantine, and this had a direct effect on how they interacted with their children.

    What are the causes of parenting stress?

    In order to deal with this type of stress, it is important for parents to identify what might be their triggers. This can help them address the problem, and think of ways to deal with it better.

    Here are some causes of parenting stress:

  • Unpredictable events, such as being laid off, an accident, or even death in the family
  • Struggling with daily life
  • Stress from work
  • Lack of resources for the family
  • Not being able to have time to engage in self-care
  • Lack of a social support structure to help deal with problems
  • Problems within the family, such as with the children or with a partner or spouse
  • What can you do about it?

    Stress can build up gradually, or it can be the result of an unexpected event that is difficult to deal with. So it is important for parents to know what things they can do if they encounter parenting stress in their lives.

    Here are some ways to manage stress:

    • Don’t ignore stress. Acknowledging that you’re under stress is the first step when it comes to finding a solution for it.
    • Avoid being a perfectionist. Sometimes, trying to be the “perfect” parent can put you under a lot of stress. Be at peace with your mistakes, and learn from them. Don’t beat yourself up if you’re having a hard time, or feel that you might need some help in parenting.
    • Take care of yourself. It’s not a good idea to let yourself go just to care for your family. You will better be able to care for them when you are also taking care of yourself. Take breaks, take some time to relax, and do the things you enjoy in life.
    • Get enough rest. As hard as it may be, try to get at least 8 hours of sleep every night. This helps keep you healthy and well-rested.
    • Eat right. The food you eat can have a direct impact on not just your health, but also your mood. Eat healthy foods to boost your energy, and to make you feel better and healthier.
    • Don’t be afraid to seek professional help if you feel that the stress is too much, and it is affecting your mental health.

    Remember, stress is a normal part of being a parent. However, don’t let yourself be consumed by it, and don’t let it affect how you care for yourself and your family.

    Learn more about Parenting here


    Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

    Medically reviewed by

    Ruben Macapinlac, MD, DPPS

    Pediatrics · Philippine Pediatric Society

    Written by Jan Alwyn Batara · Updated Sep 05, 2022

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