Study: The most stressed out moms are …

A new study has found that mothers with middle school children are the most stressed out, likely due to the changing lifestyle of young adolescents.
Jan 27, 2016

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  • Middle school can be a tough time for students.

  • It may be even tougher for those students' mothers.

  • A new study from Arizona State University found that American moms are most stressed out during their child's middle school years. This goes against the idea that mothers are most stressed just after giving birth or during their teen's high school years.

  • "I was a little taken aback to see that apparently preadolescence is the new adolescence or junior high school or middle school is the new high school," Suniya Luthar, one of the study's co-authors, told CNN.

  • To find this, researchers analyzed more than 2,000 surveys from educated American moms with children and compared those results to how parents with one child ranked their feelings about their lives.

  • In most scenarios, mothers with middle school-aged children were the most stressed, lonely and empty, and felt the least amount of satisfaction, the study said. Meanwhile, mothers with infants or children who had become adults were the happiest.

  • Moms stress out during this period of their children's lives because their teens are constantly going through their own stresses, likely caused by an increase of "raging hormones" and physical body changes.

  • Teens also face peer pressure about drug and alcohol use, which may make them act out towards their parents, resulting in arguments between families and stressing moms out even more. Some of these have even ranked among some of the most important issues for American families today.

  • Middle school moms will also stress out because their children go through these changes so quickly, experts told CNN. Children become adolescents seemingly overnight as parents see their child go from someone "who loved to snuggle" to someone "who can't even stand to be around me," Cynthia Tobias, parenting expert and author, told CNN.

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  • "You see this person who is almost but not quite grown-up physically, saying at one moment, 'Leave me alone. I've got this figured out. Let me do it my way,' or 'Don't ask me questions,' and so on, and on the other hand, they (are) crushed in tears, and looking to you for comfort just like a child," Luthar told CNN. "They might cry like the children they used to be, but being able to actually comfort them is nowhere near as easy."

  • Raising children at this age may prove tiresome for parents, especially since, at least according to experts, raising a young adolescent is similar to raising a toddler. But there are a number of strategies parents can use to raise their child in a healthy way and cut back on their own stresses by doing so.

  • It all starts with understanding a middle schooler's lifestyle and habits. Nancy Darling, Ph.D., wrote for Psychology Today that middle school students go through so many physical and social changes that they become tired and hungry, which are both issues that parents should be mindful of since that tiredness and hunger can lead these youngsters to be cranky or upset, Darling wrote.

  • "Middle schoolers often live in a state of chronic sleep deprivation," she said. "Just like toddlers, when adolescents are tired and hungry, they get CRANKY."

  • To help their teen grow in a healthy way, parents should provide healthy food whenever possible so that they don't binge on Cheetos or ice cream. Darling also suggests that parents eat meals with their children so that they can talk about their child's life issues while also helping them eat healthier.

  • Parents can also encourage their teens to not sleep in on the weekends, since that will only make them more tired and continue to disrupt their sleep schedule, Darling wrote.

  • The lessons don't stop there. Middle school youngsters go through a lot of transition phases, so they may need advice on a number of issues. There are several Pinterest boards that can help parents teach their children valuable lessons, easing some of the tension in the home and lessening the stresses for those moms.

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  • "Left to their own devices, middle schoolers will happily fill up on snack foods, stay up until midnight, drag out of bed at dawn, and yell at you at dinner time," she wrote. "But that doesn't mean you have to let them. And the whole family will be happier if you don't."

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Herb Scribner is a writer for Deseret Digital Media.

Website: https://twitter.com/HerbScribner

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