United Families International

Playing, engaging with children can help reduce single-parent stress

Manhattan, KANSAS — Stress is a killer. It can cause nausea, lack of sleep, cause migraines and arthritis, increase heart rate, blood pressure and even cause heart disease.

Nearly 41 percent of mothers around the United States face raising a child as a single parent, which can be one of the most stressful jobs ever.

But with the help of three Kansas State University researchers, we soon may find ways to help single mothers improve their mother-child relationships, which in turn can help lower stress.

An elevated level of parental engagement can reduce parental stress. So the more time a mother spends playing with her child, the lower stress she feels.

Along with a host of surprising findings, researchers Blake Berryhill, Kristy Soloski and Rebekah Adams, all doctorate students, have found that playing with your kids on a more consistent and long-term basis can indeed help lower stress.

According to Berryhill, single mothers experience higher levels of stress because they have to fulfill more parenting duties, and more duties in general. He also cites less financial resources, longer work hours and less social support as causes of single-parent stress.

The researchers are currently looking for solutions to help single mothers better deal with the task of parenting and ultimately want to better understand the relationships between parental engagement, parental stress and child engagement.

Single mothers who reported stress during their child's early age also reported stress when their child was older. Among their findings, the researchers found:

  • Single mothers who spent time playing and being with their child at age 1 were more likely to keep playing with their kids.
  • An elevated level of parental engagement can reduce parental stress. So the more time a mother spends playing with her child, the lower stress she feels.

Researchers say the last finding was the most surprising but will continue to look for ways for mothers to spend time with their children. They also say follow up studies are planned.

To read the whole article, click here.

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