Stress is something from which many people can benefit in small, occasional doses, revving up their motivation or helping them to be more alert. But scores of people are unable to regulate the amount of stress in their daily lives, and an excess can lead to serious complications from burnout to physical symptoms including ulcers and many issues in between. Stress may also present a threat in families, suggests a new Finnish study conducted at the University of Jyvaskyla. The study examine both parents and their children, and distinguished between those parents who were experiencing stress and burn out at work and those who had a more positive attitude about their jobs.
The study’s results show that parents going through stressful periods at or attitudes about work were far more likely to have children who felt disillusioned about school and who were stressed and unhappy with their performance. One especially interesting piece of data to emerge from the study was the trend in which family members of the same gender appeared to have a more direct stress-affected relationship than those of different genders. As a result, daughters were most affected by mothers who felt stressed at work, and sons showed greater influence through their relationships with their fathers. The researchers noted that an increase in financial worries also contributed to higher rates of stress among children.
The precise way in which stress and burnout are communicated within the home may have an important impact on the link between parents and their children. Further research into whether families who constructively or calmly talk about their issues at work rather than “letting off steam” at home may help researchers understand the precise mechanism through which stress is made contagious.
© Copyright 2010 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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