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Bar graph: Children by Location Bar graph: Children by Location and Age Bar graph: Children by Location and Poverty Status

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Parenting 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.1

Parents in small rural areas were less likely to report often feeling stress than those in urban areas. The parents of 8.6 percent of children in small rural areas reported often feeling stress, compared to 10.4 percent of those in urban or large rural areas.

In all locations, parents of adolescents (aged 12-17) were more likely to report often feeling stressed than parents of younger children. The parents of 10.2 percent (in small rural areas) to 14.7 percent (in large rural areas) of adolescents reported often feeling stressed, compared to the parents of less than 10 percent of children in the younger age groups.

Parents of children in low-income families reported higher levels of stress as well. In all locations, the greatest percentage of children whose parents reported often feeling stress was found among children with household incomes below the Federal poverty level (FPL). These proportions ranged from 13.5 percent of poor children in small rural areas to 20.8 percent of those in large rural areas. The parents of a relatively small percentage of children with household incomes of 400 percent of the FPL or more report often feeling stress, and this percentage did not vary significantly by location.

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1 Zell ER, Ezzati-Rice TM, Battaglia MP, Wright RA. National immunization survey: The methodology of a vaccination surveillance system. Public Health Reports 115:65-77. 2000.