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Parental Stress

The demands of parenting can cause considerable stress for families. Parents were asked how often during the past month they had felt that their child was much harder to care for than others of his or her age; how often the child did things that really bothered them a lot; and how often they had felt angry with the child. Parents were considered to often feel stressed if they answered "usually" or "always" to at least one of these measures: Overall, parents of 10.2 percent of children reported often feeling stressed.*

Levels of stress appear to be higher among parents of older children. While the parents of only 9.3 percent of children aged 0-11 years reported often feeling stressed, the parents of 12.0 percent of 12- to 17-year-olds met the standard for parenting stress.

Lower household income is also associated with higher levels of parenting stress. Among children with household incomes below the Federal poverty level (FPL), the parents of 17.6 percent reported high levels of stress, compared to parents of 12.8 percent of children with household incomes between 100 and 199 percent of poverty. Of children with household incomes between 200 and 399 percent of FPL, the parents of 8.4 percent of children reported high stress levels, as did parents of 5.7 percent of children with household incomes of 400 percent or more of FPL.

* Due to changes in response options to the survey questions, 2007 data cannot be directly compared with that from 2003.