New study shows parents' stress levels are at all time high amid lockdowns, closures, and financial decline.
The ongoing COVID pandemic, record-high inflation, school closures, supply chain issues, and global uncertainty. We could go on- levels across the country have hit an all-time high and according to a new American Psychological Association (APA) poll, parents’ stress is leading the way. You can’t blame parents for their current stress levels. We are two years plus into a pandemic that has caused mass lockdowns, mass closures, mass job loss, and mass financial decline. It hasn’t been easy for parents across the country who just want to put food on their tables and gas in their vehicles.
Everywhere they turn, parents have been facing one roadblock after another and if that isn’t enough, another roadblock is thrown their way. Parents can’t catch a break and now, they are at the breaking point. The APA poll reveals some shockingly sad numbers regarding stressed parents.
The APA partnered with The Harris Poll to conduct their annual “Stress in America” poll survey. The poll was taken during the week of February 7-14 involving a total of 3,012 adults. Following the recent world events (Russia invading Ukraine), another supplemental poll was conducted so those numbers could also be included. What the APA found out was something we all knew but haven’t discussed at length – stressed parents have reached their breaking point.
During the APA’s initial survey, an astounding 87% of the adult respondents said that the everyday rise in gas, energy, and food prices was the biggest cause of stress they are facing. This number represents the “proportion of adults seen across all stressors asked about in the history of the Stress in America survey,” according to Fatherly magazine. The Stress in America poll regarding parents began in earnest back in 2007.
Along with the stress of inflation, 81% of parents say that supply chain issues are a major cause of stress in their lives. With the supplemental poll now being included, another 81% say global uncertainty is a stressor, 80% stress over potential Russian retaliation, and 80% are stressed out by the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
The numbers continue to paint a sad story for parents’ stress in America. The above stressors only add to the strain parents are feeling with a pandemic that feels like it will never end. Nearly two-thirds of those polled (63%) say that the COVID pandemic has forever changed their lives. Breaking that down even further, parents continue to stress over the guilt and loss they’ve faced over the past two years. Parents are also stressed with the ongoing hardships seen in those most vulnerable to COVID and its never-ending variants. Parents’ stress is extremely high with their children’s educational development and the issues it has caused at home. Money stress saw the highest recorded stress number since 2015.
The current levels of parents’ stress documented were even a shock to some researchers. Especially when it came to the same issues. Clinical psychologist Lynn Bufka, who is also the APA’s associate chief for practical transformation says that while many people do feel the stress of the day-to-day, typically they claim different social or political reasons as their sources of stress. “We don’t usually see 80 percent of people telling us that a particular stressor is stressful for that many individuals,” Bufka told NBC News.
To add insult to injury is Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. 84% of those surveyed claim the invasion is simply terrifying to watch. Another 69% feel the stress of possible nuclear war. The same 69% also feel that we are at the beginning stages of World War III.
The numbers are frightening. Parents’ stress is beyond what normally counts for manageable stress levels. What used to be an optimistic group is finally feeling the effects of life as we know it. Mental health is taking a beating, not only in adults but children as well. Resiliency is no longer being seen and for many, life has turned into survival.
So, what do we do in this instance, in this time of massive loss and little gain? The answer for many parents of children, teenagers especially, is that 65% say their kids could have benefited greatly if they had seen a counselor or mental health professional as the pandemic took over. “As parents, our job is to try to get these little people to healthy adults and give them the skills they need to move forward,” Bufka said. “We are in uncharted territory about how to do that.” What Bufka also said about parents’ stress is that they need to understand that they are not alone. Despite all the pressures and the seemingly endless turmoil, we are all together in it. Perhaps speaking to a mental health professional is also the answer for parents.