Stress is an inevitable part of life. Everyone experiences it from time to time. There is no way we can evade it. That being said, it doesn’t mean we can just let stress affects our daily life and how we connect with our family. There are ways to manage stress. Before you can manage stress, first you need to know and identify them. Here, we will tell you types of family stress.
We begin with the definition. In the next several sections we will explain the types one by one, with each type having their own section.
We include how to manage a particular type of family stress in each section. In the last section, we give you some tips to help you manage the stress regardless of the type. Alright, with no further ado, let’s begin.
What Is Family Stress?
When we talk about stress, the focus is, more often than not, on the individual, how the stress affects them, and how they manage the stress.
The thing is, stress can happen to a family, too. A situation such as the illness of a family member can disrupt the entire family, affecting them one way or another.
Family stress can be defined as an imbalance between the family’s demands and its ability to meet these demands.
Keep in mind that the imbalance between the demands and ability to meet them is not necessarily real.
In some cases, the imbalance can be perceived or imagined although it still causes stress in the family. Therefore, especially parents, need to know how to manage parental stress.
Types of family stress
There are six common family stress types. They are
- financial problems
- relationship problems
- a new family member
All these can happen to any family. How a family perceive the stress and manage it, however, may vary from one family to another.
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Moving is among the types of family stress. For some families, moving to a new place can be stressful, especially if they have a strong emotional connection with their previous place.
For some other families, moving can be a happy and exciting experience as they can have a new start, meet new friends, and so on.
1. Financial Problems
One of the most common types of family stress is financial stress. When you have a family, you have to provide for not only yourself but other people as well. If you have children, you have more people to provide for, which can make it more stressful.
You have the responsibility to earn enough money to give them necessities like shelter, food, and clothing as well as keep them healthy and make them happy.
Financial uncertainty can make parents stressed and anxious. And this can be picked up by the children. While the children might feel stressed and anxious, they may not know why and don’t understand what is going on.
To manage this stress, you need to explain the condition. Explain in a way that your children can understand. If your standard of living needs to be changed, explain it, and how it will affect them also.
Like other types of family stress, if your children ask questions, answer it as honestly as possible. Explaining the situation honestly will minimize misinterpretations.
The most important thing to do is to reassure your children that no matter what, you will take care of them. If your children are old enough, you can even allow them to give ideas on how they can help cut family spending.
Spend quality family time with activities that have little to no cost. For example, bike riding, visiting parks, playing board games, and so on. Staying active helps to reduce feelings of depression and excessive worry.
Illness is also one of the types of family stress. Regardless of who is affected, it is very stressful for the family.
If the parents are ill, they will be unable to work and take care of their children, thus adding financial stress and disrupting the routine of the family. If a child is ill, the parents must take care of them and might even have to leave their work.
It has a significant impact on the entire family. Not only will it wreak havoc to the established routines, but it will also force everyone in the family to figure out how they can adjust to the stressful situation.
It is indeed a difficult time for both parents and children. Illness, just like other types of family stress on the list, can disrupt routines. To manage the stress, you will need to maintain normalcy.
If it isn’t possible, try to get as close to it as you can. Try to keep small things like dinner time, school, and homework as consistent as possible. This will lessen the impact of illness on the family.
If you are in this situation, protect your children, and provide necessary support but don’t overdo it. Avoid following the impulse to overprotect or overindulge your children.
Do not doubt your children’s resilience and ability to get through this stressful situation. If you need help, reach out to your extended support system.
3. Relationship Problems
The next one in our types of family stress list is relationship problems. Relationship problems among parents can be a stressful situation.
It can affect not just the parents, but the children as well. Marriage is difficult. It is especially so with children to take care of, which adds new layers of difficulty.
As the schedules of both parents fill up, they don’t spend time together as much as they used to and they might lose touch with one another over time. Things get more complicated as marriage is a union between two different individuals.
Two individuals who have different opinions on many things, which is why there will be disagreements from time to time.
Relationship problems must be worked out by the individuals involved together. In this case, both parents have to learn to work past their differences and work as a team. If there is any disagreement, it must be discussed with a cool head and not emotions.
In some cases, relationship problems lead to the end of the marriage, either in separation or divorce. If this happens to you, try to tell your children honestly and directly if they can understand. If they have questions, answer them and maintain composure.
Do not drag the children into the problems you and your ex-spouse have. The problems should be kept between the two of you. Don’t badmouth your ex-spouse in front of your children and never force them to take sides.
Be a good role model for your children instead. Also, try to set rules and limits between the two houses as similar as possible.
Moving can be stressful. However, unlike other types of family stress, it may not be a source of stress for some families. It can be even a good and exciting thing for some families. Indeed, how moving is perceived is different from one family to another.
For some families, moving can be stressful because of how it changes life. At the very least, it changes the family routine.
Everyone in the family will have a new start in an unfamiliar place, which means when they first move they will not have friends, have to adapt to the new neighborhood and enter a new school, among others.
The transition can be tough, especially for children. This is why, as a parent, you have to provide your children with as many coping opportunities for these types of family stress as you can. Before moving, prepare your children in advance so they are not stressed.
Build their self-esteem and empower your children by asking their opinions and let them make some decisions about the situation.
For example, let them decide which items they will keep and which will be donated. Or, what color they’d like for their new room. Also, ask them about how they feel and tell them that it is okay to be nervous about it.
5. A New Family Member
That’s right. A new member of the family is among the types of family stress, too. How? For the older children, especially toddlers, a new baby is seen as an invader that gets into their territory.
This new baby, after all, changes not just the siblings’ lives but also their place in the family. While the parents are overjoyed from the baby, the siblings may not share the same feeling.
They may have feelings of jealousy and sibling rivalry. This is why a new member in the family can cause stress in the family as there will be a necessary adjustment for both parents and children.
To manage these types of family stress, create a balance between time for parents and older children, and time for the whole family. Acknowledge the feelings that the older child feels and validate them.
If they are frustrated, allow them to talk about it and listen to what they say. Involve them in baby care when the situation is appropriate.
The last one in our types of family stress is death. The death of a family member is stressful for the entire family. Everyone will grief from it.
What you should know is that grieving is a process that must be worked through. How the process is handled and how long it takes is different from one family member to another.
Because of the difference in how the process is worked through and how long it is done, things can be difficult for the family members to talk with and comfort each other.
The death of someone that holds the family together, for example, can make it difficult for the family members to continue the family dynamic.
Bereavement is not something that we can move over from quickly. You will need to be patient with yourself and for your family. If there are any major life changes you have planned, consider postponing it, and give time for everyone to work through grief.
Talk to your children about the situation. Help them work through their feelings. Seek out your support system who can understand what you feel. When necessary, seek outside help.
How to Reduce Family Stress
The followings are some tips you can try to manage family stress, regardless of the types of family stress.
- Evaluate your lifestyle
Children pick up the behaviors of their parents. This is why you need to become a healthy role model if you are a parent.
This is especially important during family stress as your children will follow how you manage the stress. Evaluate your lifestyle and adjust so you can live a healthier lifestyle.
- Create a healthy environment
The environment can affect behaviors. This is why changing the environment and make it healthier can help in managing stress.
Look around the house. Does it make you feel good and relaxed? Doing things as simple as cleaning the house really can help the family to deal with stress.
- Talk about it
Regardless of the types of family stress, communication between parents and children is very important. If you see your children look stressed, talk with them. Work together to address the issue.
- Focus on what you can control
Devote your energy on things that you can control. Do the actions and tasks necessary to return the situation to normal
- Use or develop your support system
When you are stressed, use your support system. Talk to people who can understand what you are feeling and if you need it, ask for their help.
- If you want to change a habit but do it slowly, one at a time
There might be changes that you want for the family. When you want to change some habits, don’t change them altogether. Instead, change a single habit at a time. Changing multiple habits may overwhelm you, adding more stress than lessening it.
- Get professional help
You don’t have to do manage family stress alone. If you need assistance, do not hesitate to get professional help.
Although every family will face one or the other type of family stress, how the stress is managed from one family to another. How the stress affects a family also differs as well. By knowing about types of family stress, you will be better equipped to manage and deal with it. In case you can’t manage the stress and feel overwhelmed, know that you don’t have to burden it alone. Don’t hesitate to get professional help.