Stress and family
Love, passion, conflict, argument — it’s how we relate to
each other. It’s how we bond and learn about one another. It’s how we develop
as people and as a family.
Whether it is an unexpected illness, bad grades, financial
difficulties, or arguments over trash duty, it’s inevitable that each family
will face stress together. Families who are prepared for these trying times
emerge stronger and more prepared for future problems.
Here are some tips for helping your family handle stress and
for dealing with stress that comes from your familial relationships.
Leave stress at the door
You do a good job of keeping a happy face at work, but maybe
when you come home, you let your family have it. You may be inadvertently
taking out your stress on your family and doing harm without realizing it.
If you’ve just ended a particularly stressful workday, pause
before you walk through your door at night. Do some deep breathing or listen to
some calming music. This helps get you in a better mood before you see your
partner and children. They will thank you for not coming unglued.
No one enjoys household chores, but they are things that
have to be done. Evenly dividing chores like sweeping, taking out the trash,
vacuuming, washing the dog, and raking the yard can prevent future conflict.
If everyone pitches in, no one person will feel put upon. It
also allows for teaching moments with younger children so they learn not to
become frustrated when they aren’t fully capable of completing a task. In the
process they will learn skills they will need to live on their own.
Dinner hour is one of the most important times in a family’s
life. On nights you’re not rushing off for ballet or soccer practice, sitting
in on a parent-teacher conference, or meeting about an upcoming charity event,
plan for your family to have dinner together. You get more than one good thing
out of this.
According to a study in the journal Pediatrics,
children who eat meals with their family at least three times a week are 24
percent more likely to eat healthy foods, and 12 percent less likely to become
A study from Brigham Young University
found that those adults who sit down to a family meal in the evening reported
their jobs to be more satisfying and healthier, suggesting dinner itself can
This time together provides an opportunity for communication
and relationship building. It allows you to find out about things that might be
causing your children stress. You can help them prevent future problems and
teach them how to respond to the pressures they are facing now.
Have family activities
You don’t have to plan elaborate trips to theme parks or
grand weekend outings. Setting aside one weekend a month or one night a week to
spend as a family keeps communication channels open and allows you all to bond
as a family. Play board games, do an art project, or go for a walk. It doesn’t
have to be complicated, or even cost money.
Keep communication open
You know your children and spouse best. When they are acting
differently or don’t seem to be themselves, you will likely pick up on that
quickly. Instead of avoiding the obvious, ask what’s going on. Moody teenagers
may rebuff your questions, but letting them know that you’re available to talk
may encourage them to come around.
Living together as a family offers many opportunities to
reduce the stress that naturally arises in family life. Spending time together,
sharing chores, keeping communication channels open, and sitting down to an
evening meal together several times a week all help to make your family life
together less stressful and more pleasurable.