Spending Time with the Kids Reduces Stress

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Single mothers who engage with children in daily activities, such as reading stories or playing games, may experience lower levels of stress, according to a new study
The study sought to understand the link between parental stress, parental engagement, and child temperament.

By studying a national dataset, the study concluded:
  • Single mothers who spent time engaging in daily activities with their child at age 1 were more likely to continue engagement at age 5.
  • The more difficult a child is at an early age, the less likely the mother is to engage with him over the first five years of life.
  • If a child is seen as difficult and fussy, it increases the level of parental stress.
  • Even if a single mother is stressed or overwhelmed in her role as a parent, it does not predict how much time she will spend with her child.
  • The more time a mother spends engaging with her child in daily activities, the lower level of stress she may experience and the more energizing she may feel as a parent.
“The last finding was especially interesting to us because it helped us realize that the answer is spending time with their children,” study co-author Blake Berryhill said. “Being a single mother and being a parent in general is very exhausting, but if a mother is willing to spend time with her children, it can reduce her parental stress because she will feel that in her role as a mom, she is doing an adequate job.”

About 41 percent of births in the United States are to unwed mothers. Berryhill said it has been shown that single mothers often have higher levels of parental stress, difficulty a mother experiences from the demands of being a parent, than married mothers.

“Single mothers can feel constantly overloaded and overwhelmed at being a parent and trying to fulfill all of their responsibilities,” Berryhill said. “Being a single mother brings extra stress, because they have decreased economic resources, longer work hours and their social support network may be limited as well. Because of all of this, they can feel the constant stress of ‘how am I doing in my role as a mother?’”

For Berryhill, Kristy Soloski, and Rebekah Adams, the study’s authors, the discovery that engagement can reduce stress was an unexpected, yet positive finding.

“If we can help moms spend more time with their child and help them in that way, then their levels of parental stress will be reduced and they will have more fulfillment in their role as a mother,” Soloski said. “Our role becomes helping them find meaningful ways to interact with their children.”

“Often times mothers are encouraged to engage with their children for the positive impact it has on the child,” Adams said. “The findings show there is long-term positive impact for the mother as well.”

Source : http://familynews.com/spending-time-with-the-kids-reduces-stress/

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