Reducing Family Stress

There is no question about it: Family life at the beginning of the 21st Century can be one stressful time! We’ve all seen it–parents “losing it” while shopping as their children run amok. Husbands and wives bickering in public and private over money or parenting issues. Job performance suffering because of the stress at home is causing stress at work, and work stress is in turn intensifying stress at home.
Why is this such a stressful time? It may be that employers, in the quest to sweeten the bottom line, seem to require more work and more time from employees (that’s you!) than they have in the past. Perhaps it is the peer pressure that our children experience “Johnny’s parents let him do it, why can’t I?” Maybe it is the guilt that many of us feel–especially when both parents need to work–about the time we are able to spend with our families. Most likely, the sources of our stress are a combination of many of the above, and more.

Hints on reducing and controlling family stress:

  • 1. Don’t think for a second that you are alone in having to deal with family stress and anxiety. Millions of others share the same symptoms (some are just better than others in hiding them). It is your ability to handle the stress, not supress it, that makes the difference.
  • 2. When problems begin to arise (as they always will), find the time put them on the table for family discussion. Avoiding problems almost always intensifies them. Discuss them, come to an agreeable situation, and move on!
  • 3. Get everyone involved in family chores, tasks and such. This is especially necessary in 2-earner families. Everyone should know what needs to be done, and when. Get the children involved, too. It is insanity to have mom or dad running around like an idiot trying to get things done while perfectly capable children (meaning at at acceptable age) sit on their butts watching. The most common response to this seems to be “they do more damage than good! It’s better that I just do it myself.” That situation arises only out of lack of training and direction. In years past, young children were often responsible enough to handle certain “age specific” tasks.
  • 4. Leave WORK at WORK! Unless it is an absolute necessity, leave paperwork and mental “work baggage” at the office. Although you probably will never be able to totally sever your attachment to work while at home (voice mail and email have pretty much ruined that option) you can put limits on that attachment. Don’t make yourself available every minute of every day for work related issues. There must be certain times of the day and week where the family is your only focus. Getting organized at work goes a long way to helping accomplish this goal.
  • 5. The 1990’s were a stressful time to live! Do you know the Top 22 Signs You Had Too Much of the 90’s? The 21st Century is starting out in much the same way!
  • 6. Set guidelines for all family members and learn to live within them. You can’t do everything that your spouse or children want you to do–make them recognize and respect your limits. By not taking on more than you can handle, you decrease the likelihood that you will become buried in tasks that are beyond your capabilities.
  • 7. Keep things in perspective! Concentrate on those items and tasks that bring the most rewards to your family and get the full benefit from them. Eliminate those that do not give benefit to the family (or worse, do harm to it).

Get some expert advice on dealing with stress. Two sources that we can recommend are Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff With Your Family : Simple Ways to Keep Daily Responsibilities and Household Chaos from Taking over Your Life by Richard Carlson, and Stop Screaming at the Microwave: How to Connect Your Disconnected Lifeby Mary Loverde, both available at a 20% discount from



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