The family unit is the most essential functional social unity anywhere in the world. As time changes, the family unit keeps changing, both in size and the type of relationship among family members. In the 21st century, many social scientists have warned that this essential unit is gradually losing meaning. Why? Life becoming too demanding hence pulls the family members apart (Boss, 2002). The result is a situation where no one is contented with the family relations – a situation referred to as family stress. Family stress has been among the most prominent topics of discussion in social sciences. It is critical to mention that when one family member is stressed; all other family members get stressed as well. This causes instability in family circles, with everyone trying to be defensive on the causes of the condition. This paper gives an explication of family stress in the context of causes, signs and symptoms, effects and the issues it can cause.
The causes of family stress
The main causes of family stress are related to finances and time. The need to take care of bills may cause serious stress, especially where the finances are limited. The need to cater for such bills as the children’s education in addition to all house related bills can mount unnecessary pressure of an individual. When the individual, usually, the bread winner of the family is stressed, family members become stressed as well, and things begin falling apart (Boss, 2002). Another cause of family stress is health. The deteriorating health of a family member, terminal diseases or even worse, death causes stress of the other family members due to excessive grief, sadness and in some cases, guilt. Such feelings pull people apart since everyone will usually mourn in their own fashion, some resorting to isolation.
Children can be another cause of family stress. This is especially so, where the children are teenagers. At this point, the parents will try everything possible to have their children follow the right track, by adopting the right company, for example. Conversely, the children will resist and act contrary to the expectations of the parent. The relationships among the children can as well be a cause of stress in a family. For instance, when there is sibling rivalry in family, family members can be stressed a great deal. Sibling rivalry is one thing that cannot easily be rooted out of a family (Weber, 2011). Other causes of stress include rape and incest, lack of job security as well as work-life conflict, a concept that is characteristic of the 21st century.
Effects of family stress
Family stress can come with devastating effects. For instance, the situation can mutilate the relationship between children and their parents. This causes sour relationships. Where the parents are ever quarrelling and fighting, the children become the major victims. Stress displacement affects children as the parents may resort to spanking them unnecessarily. Psychologists explain that according to verified research, children from broken or stressed families are likely to perform poorly in schools (Weber, 2011). This is because they usually extend their stress to school. Stress can as well cause poor child development, especially where the stress leads to constant conflicts among the family members. Children grow to be antisocial and may even develop such disorders as psychopathic personality disorders.
Family stress causes such negative impacts such as limited time together. The family members gradually get detached from one another and endeavor to avoid meeting. Perhaps the biggest victim here is the child. The child usually needs the family close as he or she grows. Growing up in a detached family may negatively impact on children. Another effect of family stress is constant tension. Such tension and anxiety is usually felt when the family needs to meet over dinner or at night, during bedtime. Such tension is not healthy as it may lead to complicated bitterness, which is uncalled for (Boss & Mulligan, 2003). Perhaps one factor worth mentioning, which is both an effect and a symptom of family stress is the issue of extreme mood swings. Such mood swings may affect the way people behave in a family. Mood swings can as well be the beginning of such bitter reactions as family violence.
The issues that family stress may cause
Psychologists and other social scientists have identified many negative things that family stress may cause. Top on the list is the issue of divorce. Such cases impact heavily on children. Usually, divorce is a last resort in the list of solutions to family tension. Divorce means that the children will be brought up in the most disturbing manner. Living with parent is usually an incomplete lifestyle as the presence of both parents is critically important (Boss & Mulligan, 2003). In most cases, divorce is the cause of further financial troubles for both parents. Secondly, family stress can cause such issues as constant conflict in family. In some cases, such conflict is associated with violence, something that can lead to imprisonment of a family member. This will force the children to live with absentee parents. Research indicates that extreme family stress results in suicide. Suicide doe not solve a thing but causes further stress.
Boss, P. (2002). Family stress management: A contextual approach. Thousand Oaks, Calif: Sage Publications.
Boss, P., & Mulligan, C. (2003). Family stress: Classic and contemporary readings. Thousand Oaks, Calif: Sage Pub.
Weber, J. G. (2011). Individual and family stress and crises. Los Angeles: SAGE.