How parent stress can affect children

Written by Irene Motaung

The contemporary family institution is experiencing more challenges than ever before. This could be due to the growing demands born out of factors like economic development and the technological advancements of our modern society. Today’s fast-paced lifestyle demands that traditional gender roles and parenting structures are altered, which can cause additional pressure to parents, often resulting in stress or burnout.


As families encounter obstacles in everyday life, parents are pressured to adjust their parenting style, discipline or support structure. This is often when parents feel overwhelmed, particularly in bigger cities where they don’t often have a strong enough support structure. When the parents are worn out and stressed, it becomes difficult for them to be emotionally available to their children. Their children may begin to feel lost and isolated without the support or full engagement of their parents. In the case of a complete disruption of the family structure, like a separation or divorce, managing your emotions as a parent becomes a monumental task which does not often leave much emotional strength to manage

what your children might be feeling.


The emotional distress of parents is difficult to hide from children, it may make children blame themselves for their parents’ distress or feel more isolated. It is common for children facing these challenges to develop anxiety, stress and depression if they are not supported effectively by their families. Once a child develops these emotional problems, they may begin skipping lessons at schools, abusing substances or engaging in inappropriate sexual activity. They may turn to these negative behaviours as a means of coping with their situation or simply as a means of distraction from the distress of their parents. For younger children, stress or anxiety may result in nightmares, behaviour problems at school and frequent illnesses.


At the Family Life Centre, our experienced counselling staff can provide support for families, parents and children through individual counselling, relationship and family counselling. We also host workshops for parenting skills, single parenting skills and have a specialised course for divorced parents looking for guidance on co-parenting in two homes. These resources are available for parents and families in any form and provide valuable skills in managing stress as well as other challenges one may be facing as a parent.


Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions.

Contact Wendy for Parenting Skills Programmes: prepare@familylife.co.za

Contact Tina for Counselling services: intake@familylife.co.za




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1 Cardigan Road

Corner Cardigan & Crescent Rd

Parkwood, Johannesburg

2193