For parents, stress management is not a luxury
It’s easy as a parent to see your life as a matter of clear tradeoffs: time spent for yourself means less time spent on your children. And yet, we all know, deep down, that it isn’t that simple, that we need a little time for ourselves to be at our best, and that our best is precisely what we owe ours kids. But sometimes we need someone to tell us the obvious.
One of the obvious conclusions of the growing field of mind-body medicine is that our emotions affect us physically, triggering or accelerating very “real,” very physical medical conditions. But what is not always as obvious is that our emotions can just as clearly affect others physically, especially if those others are our children.
Clearly there’s a lot more research to be done, but David Code’s new book Kids Pick Up on Everything: How Parental Stress is Toxic to Kids and the studies to which he refers touches on precisely how, and how much, the emotional life of parents can be detrimental to children. We all know that parental stress harms our children, but Code alleges – and cites compelling evidence – that our stress is medically damaging to our children, and may be the hidden cause of the recent rise in diseases/disorders such as ADHD, autism, asthma and diabetes . The message to take from this isn’t that “it’s all your fault.” On the contrary, Code’s observations are potentially empowering: if our own emotional turmoil is capable, as he believes, of triggering or aggravating medical conditions, then think how much effect we might have by taking steps to ensure our own emotional wellbeing. The message is clear, that stress-management for busy parents isn’t self-indulgent. It’s a priority, perhaps even a duty.
For a review of the book and an interview with the author, have a look at this recent article by Lisa Belkin in the Huffington Post.