Stress and Its Impact on Parenting

By Traci L. Carman

Change can create stress in any relationship. In families, changing teachers, schools, moving, or getting remarried all bring change and adjustment. As our family has been adjusting to some of the changes that we have experienced in the last few months, I have noticed all of us to be a bit more “stressed” than usual. We have been working on making adjustments to lessen that stress, and also making lifestyle choices that support overall health and wellbeing. It makes a huge difference in how we show up as parents.

You may have heard of the acronym “H-A-L-T,” which stands for “Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired.” When any of these dynamics are present, it is more difficult for us as parents to react appropriately to situations that come our way. We have so much on our plates, that we forget to even take inventory to see if we are nearing dangerous HALT levels. We get on mission mode to get everything done, and we become like drill sergeants in our own homes.

What I have noticed for myself, is that when I make it a priority to keep MY stress level down, the stress level of everyone else in the house somehow lessens right alongside me. The key is for me to notice when I am getting stressed, figure out what I need, and take time to meet that need.

When we are off-balance, it is very difficult to react with patience and love, clarity and understanding. Coming from frustration and fatigue, it will be more difficult to handle sibling rivalry, homework struggles, and various other issues effectively. We will also miss beautiful opportunities to know our children, and to truly support them in growing into the person they are here to be.

If you are a parent and you are feeling overwhelmed and stressed out, how is your HALT level? Are you eating? Are you getting enough sleep? Are you angry about something? Are you feeling overburdened? Look at what has you off-balance, and come up with creative ways to resolve that imbalance. How can you get more rest? How can you eat healthier, or more often, or not as much? Who do you need to forgive? Are your children walking all over you? That will create some upset. How can you get your boundaries back in order, with love?

Ask yourself: “What do I need to change today that would make a difference in how I am showing up for myself and my family? What is not working for me, that I need to find a resolution for? Am I willing to do what it takes?” It’s not always easy. However, once you do that, and you are truly showing up for yourself and your family, the peace and harmony that come with it, are so worth it! And, the gift you have given to your children, especially if you can communicate to them this process of taking care of yourself, is priceless.

Remember, stress is not healthy for our bodies, and it is not healthy for our families. If we ignore it, it will catch up with us. If we model it for our children, they will follow in our footsteps. Take the time to create peace and harmony. Take the time to create the life that you want for yourself and your family. Enjoy one of the best journeys in life … guiding, loving and supporting our children.

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