Educate Inspire Change

Recent Study Confirms Parents Still Lose Sleep Worrying About Grown Children

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Being a parent means thinking of the well being of your child, no matter what their age is. Even if they are full adults, we worry about their health, relationships, careers, financial situation and overall wellbeing.
Just recently, a study has concluded that many parents are still worrying and losing sleep even though their children are adults.

The study conducted by Amber J. Seidel of Penn. State University analyzed the relationship between parent’s worry over their children, and their sleep patterns, and showed that this stress remains into the child’s adulthood.

Seidel, for the CBS News, admitted:

“I feel that many share this value, yet I think much of the socialization in our culture focuses on family when children are younger,” I seek to study topics that help us understand how family continues to be a central part of our lives throughout adulthood, and I encourage considering family-level influences in all situations.”

This study was published in the journal, The Gerontologist, and involved 186 heterosexual, middle-aged married couples from the Family Exchanges Study. The three main questions of the study were: how much support they offer, how stressed they are, and how much sleep they are getting.

The parents were asked to rate the different types of support they offer their adult children on a scale of 1 to 8, with 1 being daily and 8 being no more than once a year. Types of support ranged from practical help such as financial assistance to emotional support including advice and discussing daily events.

The parents also rated how stressful they find it to help their adult children, and how much they worry about their adult children, on a scale from 1 to 5, with 1 being “not at all” and 5 being “a great deal.”

Finally, participants reported the amount of sleep they got each night. The wives reported sleeping 6.66 hours per night while the husbands slept about 6.69 hours a night.

The results included that for husbands, the support that they provided their grown children was associated with poorer sleep; conversely, the husbands slept more when their wives reported providing support for the kids. No such impact was seen in the women’s sleep.

However, for women, sleep was impaired by experiencing higher stress with their children. Stress levels over this issue did not appear to affect how much the husbands slept.

Overall, the study found that the giving of support itself affected the men, while stress over the support was what affected the women.

Seidel hypothesizes that the results may be a side effect of how involved many parents are with their grown children’s lives these days.

“Current research on young adults suggests that parents and children are maintaining high levels of involvement,” she said. “Although parents and adult children have always maintained some level of involvement, we do see an increase in what is often termed ‘helicopter parenting’ and ‘landing pad’ children.”

Seidel says that this trend along with the emergence of technology like cell phones and social media gives parents a deeper insight into what is going on in their adult children’s lives, which may lead to more cause for concern.

Parents can help themselves deal with stress by developing healthy coping strategies, which may include better eating habits, exercise, mindfulness, support groups, or therapy.

“It is important to remember that having stress present in our lives is not the problem,” Seidel says. “It’s the inability to cope in healthy ways with the stress that is problematic and may lead to immune suppression.”

She also suggests that parents reflect on their level of involvement in their adult child’s life, how their child is receiving it, and whether they are enabling their child, seeking to control their child, or providing support.

Seidel says future research should continue to explore how the relationships between parents and their adult children can affect all areas of health and well-being.

If you’re past the age of adolescence and still experience your parents stressing over your every move, or if you’re a parent struggling with stress over your grown children — it’s normal!

Therefore, we offer several tips on how to avoid such consequences and deal with constant worrying and stress:

Well-Balanced Meals

Healthy foods maintain the healthy function of the brain and thus promote a healthy sleep.

Exercise Daily

Exercising offers numerous health benefits, and can help you fall asleep easily.

Limit Alcohol and Caffeine

These worsen anger and lead to anxiety and panic attacks, so make sure you limit their use.

Talk to Someone

You can open up and tell your worries to someone you trust and thus let your feelings out.

Time for yourself

Take some time to do things you love, like listening to your favorite albums, read a book, get a massage, or walk in the park.

Community work

Find a way to take part in the activities in the community and stay connected to others in order to fight everyday stress and relax.

Keep a Journal

Your journal can become your best friend if you start writing down your thoughts. This will not hurt anyone and you can express all your feelings.

This will also provide an opportunity for you to control your behavior and stress, and be more aware of the real situation.

Yet, continue loving your children endlessly, as they will always cherish and remember the healthy and positive relationship with their parents.

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Kash Khan

Kash Khan

Kash Khan is the founder of Educate Inspire Change (EIC). Since 2012 he has focused on on inspiring and educating others in order to improve their consciousness and connect to their true selves.


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