Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Parenting is Stressful

And if you don't believe it, check out this Science Blog story:

A study by Florida State University professor Robin Simon and Vanderbilt University's Ranae Evenson found that parents have significantly higher levels of depression than adults who do not have children. Even more surprising, the symptoms of depression do not go away when the kids grow up and move out of the house.

Their conclusions?

"It's how we do parenting in this society," Simon said. "We do it in a very isolated way and the onus is on us as individuals to get it right. Our successes are our own, but so are our failures. It's emotionally draining."

The value of a study like this is that it presents a realistic view of the difficulties associated with parenthood and encourages parents to seek greater social support, Simon said.

"Parents should know they are not alone; other people are feeling this way, too," she said. "This is a really difficult role, but we romanticize it in American culture. Parenthood is not the way it is in TV commercials."

It would be interesting to see if this pattern of depression holds true cross-culturally.


Jennifer (ponderosa) said...

Hi, I found you though Half-Changed World.

I realized just the other day that I was never ever stressed out until I had small children.

College exams? Tired, sure, but not stressed. Travelling alone, about to miss a train, with no reservations at a hotel? Ah, no worries. It'll turn out all right. But when I had kids, I started to worry about everything, plan for all eventualities, and I began thinking of certain things as too hard to bother trying.

My new-found stress wasn't caused by lack of support, I don't think, because I have a lot of family around. I think it has to do with worrying about someone other than myself -- someone helpless, entirely in my care.

Sandy said...

Interesting point, Jennifer. I'd bet lack of control and unpredictability (which you pretty much can't get away from with kids) have something to do with it, too.

Jennifer (ponderosa) said...

Right. Also -- now that you say it -- the stress of constantly trying to retain control. And the noise! The noise! (smiling)