Stress and parenting during the holidays

When a parent is under stress, it can affect the whole family.

During the holiday season everyone feels stress from a variety of reasons – job pressure, not enough money, losing loved ones, etc. What is stress? It’s your body’s reaction to a challenge or threat. Stress can make your heart beat faster and muscles tense. When a parent feels stress it can lead to:

  • Abusive behavior: Stress can wear down a parent’s self-control. When stress is high, a parent may lash out often at children.
  • Depression: Stress can make life seem hopeless. It can weaken the will to work, care for others or even live.
  • Lack of structure in the home: At times it may seem easier not to enforce bedtime or other rules, such as getting up on time or picking up toys or clothes. This can lead to more stress for everyone.
  • Damaged relationships: Stress can make a parent tense. He or she may be short-tempered with other family members – who may then act this way with each other.
  • Illness: Stress may be a factor in many health problems, including headaches, high blood pressure and heart disease. A parent’s illness can cause even more stress for the family.
  • Abuse of alcohol and other drugs: A parent may turn to these for relief from stress. Instead, the parent finds more stress—and trouble.

Parents can help their whole family be taking steps to manage stress—it’s one of the most important jobs as a parent! Michigan State University Extension offers classes to help.

RELAX: Alternatives to Anger is a four-part educational series designed to help adults, parents, teens and caregivers increase their knowledge about anger issues and put anger management and healthy relationship skills into practice. The RELAX: Alternatives to Anger series is also available online.

Stress Less with Mindfulness is made up of five sessions, offered as stand-alone sessions or as a series around Michigan.

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