Pat yourselves on the back parents! The CDC says that child safety and health have improved considerably in the last 30 years. This article from USA Today among other things, contends that cases of SIDS are down, vaccinations are up, birth defects are down, and home safety is up. It seems that advances in medicine and child safety have made their mark.
Why is it then that parents worry so much more these days than they did 30 years ago? Nutrition, bullying, entertainment violence, STDs, abductions, school shootings, and more pressure to do well in school all add to the stress. If you add a recession, growing unemployment, and the current state of this country’s education system, you may end up being a “Pressure-Cooked Family” according to this article by WebMD. So even though in the world of CDC-measured statistics we are all getting healthier, family units across this country are actually becoming so stressed out that it is leading to health problems in both parents and children.
Stressed out parents have been linked back to stressed kids (Source). Kids learn from what they see from their parents. Their stress management reflects their parents’ stress management. If you manage your stress badly, your child is more likely to develop behavior problems as a result of watching you not effectively dealing with your responsibilities.
So what can you do as a Dad to reduce stress in your household? There are lots of books and articles on the subject. Below are some that made sense to me.
1. Manage Your Time Better. I recommend reading David Allen’s “Getting Things Done” as a starter. Usually I am pretty adverse to listening to “Gurus” but there are many things that made a lot of sense to me and even if you just use 1 or 2 of his tricks you will be much less stressed out than before.
2. Get your Kids involved in Family Finances. Here is a great article about teaching kids budgeting. My favorite part is the “How Expensive am I?” exercise. Once kids understand where money comes from and where it goes on a regular basis, they may still utter the “I want that!” phrase, but they will also understand better when you have to say no.
3. Have some Fun (Your kids can show you how). I like this ehow article for its simplicity. Its simply 8 ways to play with your kids.
If you know of any good resources on how to reduce family stress (Books, blog posts, websites, etc.) please post them in the comments.