Understanding the Impact of Stress on Parents

Summary: There are profound effects of stress on parents. Through enlightening stories and insightful quotes, I aim to provide a comprehensive understanding of stress and its consequences, empowering parents to take control of their well-being.

Dear Dr. Sylvia,

I do not want to look back on my career as a leader at work and as a parent of two with regret and guilt.

I know I grew up with lots of yelling at home. It often came after dinner when my parents did lots of drinking.

I wouldn’t say I liked it.

I was determined to have a peaceful home and a happy office staff.

There is a better way than shouting it out or stuffing it down when stressed.

Right now, despite not much yelling, neither place is peaceful nor happy.

I keep thinking maybe yelling it out is better.

I look forward to what you can suggest.


Numb and Getting Number

Dear Numb,

The toll of stress on parents is enormous.

It seems more pronounced these days because of social media, climate change, and the current argumentative nature of the world.

Let me make it more manageable using quotes and real-life stories from parents and workplace leaders.

“The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought” over another.”

William James

All things considered, I have an engaging” story here titled “The Power of Perspective.”

This is about my client Sarah, who juggles a demanding career, household chores, and caring for her three children. Her husband travels for work continuously and is rarely home during the week. Overwhelmed by stress, Sarah often found herself snapping at her kids and feeling guilty about it afterward.

Ultimately, Sarah searched for a better way to relate at home. While participating in our Total Leadership Connections Program, Sarah’s life was changed by a gentlewoman named Hanna.

Hanna was one of the quieter participants. She grew up in the Middle East and rarely discussed her life before coming to the US.

One day she shared a story about her experiences as a young mother.  

Cultivate an attitude of gratitude to manage stress.

It was during the war in Iraq. Hanna shared with her group about the noise level from bombs, the fear of little food, and a constant worry about how to get through the day.

Even though she lived with constant fear and uncertainty, Hanna focused on gratitude and love for her children.

As a result, she taught Sarah a valuable lesson: the power of perspective.

Inspired by Hanna, Sarah began to shift her mindset. Instead of dwelling on her stressors, she started appreciating the small moments with her children. She realized that stress was a part of life, but how she responded to it was within her control.

It takes determined mental work to change your perspective. Fortunately, there is a groundswell of people wanting to cultivate “An Attitude of Gratitude.”

In years past, when I was fortunate enough to attend workshops with the venerable teacher Thich Nhat Hanh, he would say,

“If you can’t think of anything to be grateful for right now, at least you can be grateful that you “don’t have a painful toothache.”

When all else fails, this is my go-to moment of gratitude.

Bet you can think of one or two things you can appreciate even in your worst moments of exhaustion.

Above all, let’s continue to look at the physical and emotional consequences of parental stress.

“In today’s rush, we all overthink, seek too much, want too much, andforget about the joy of just being.”

Eckhart Tolle

Here is a story I titled “The Marathon Mom.”

Meet Lisa, a dedicated mother of two who pushed herself to the limit. Between work, parenting, and other community commitments, Lisa never took time for herself. While she dreamed of entering a local marathon, she was erratic about getting out to, as she called it, “pound the pavement. “

She consistently placed her well-being on the back burner.

One day, Lisa’s body gave her a “wake-up call. She collapsed from exhaustion and was rushed to the hospital. The doctors diagnosed her with stress-related health issues, emphasizing the need for self-care.

Lisa’s journey to recovery wasn’t easy, but she learned that taking care of “herself was essential for her family’s well-being.

Self-love is NOT selfish love. It is vital for health and well-being.

Lisa grew up in a family where her mother constantly denigrated self-care as selfish care. And Lisa fell into the trap of doing what her mom did. The mantra was “Take care of everyone else till you drop.”

By prioritizing self-care and setting boundaries, Lisa regained gained her health and became a happier, more engaged parent.

For example, Lisa had to learn the real meaning of the word “NO.”

And as I teach all the time, remember, “No is”a complete sentence.”

Here is another way to think about caring for yourself: Remember that a hungry waitress makes a very poor server.”

The tendency is often to defend, explain and justify. And extreme guilt will lead you, like Lisa, into the emergency room unless…( you can finish the sentence!!).

 Parental Stress and Its Impact on Children

“Children learn more from what you are than what you teach.”

W.E.B. Du Bois

This story I call “The Mirror Effect.”

Imagine a young boy named Alex who observed his parents constantly arguing and showing signs of stress. He began to imitate their behavior, becoming anxious and quick-tempered. Alex’s parents were called for a school meeting. Their son was causing harm to others in his class, as well as himself.

The wise school counselor asked the parents how they handled stress t home.

He was not judging the couple; he wanted to give them a new way of looking at their son and his learned ways of responding.

Clear the past to free the present.

Moreover, the parents began to move to a place of observing their behavior. Shockingly, they realized they were teaching the young son to do precisely what they had learned from their parents. Yell, slam doors, and blame others.

The adults soon realized the impact of their stress on their son and decided to make a change.

They sought professional help and started practicing stress management techniques. As they began to model healthier behaviors, Alex gradually transformed too.

In addition, Alex became more resilient, empathetic, and equipped to handle challenges after that.

Alex’s parents realized that learning new ways to respond when under stress positively influenced their child’s development.

In conclusion, stress affects parents profoundly, both physically and emotionally. However, parents can cultivate a nurturing environment for themselves and their children by understanding its consequences and implementing effective stress management techniques.

Stress is not a sign of weakness but an opportunity for growth and self-awareness.

By incorporating the stories and quotes shared here, parents gain valuable insights and embark on their journey toward stress mastery.

Here’s to your success,

Sylvia Lafair

PS. We will soon start a new “Sanity Challenge” to give simple ways to destress. Each day for one week, you learn one method that takes under five minutes. Join us by signing up at the Stress Mastery Facebook group or emailing sylvia@ceoptions.com for more details.

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Sylvia Lafair

Creative Energy Options