Parents Still Lose Sleep Worrying About Their Grown Children

Growing up often involves the desire for independence, but strict parents can limit one’s freedom. If you’re a young adult still concerned about obtaining your parents’ permission, you may feel burdened by overprotective parents. The negative effects of their excessive concern might intrude on your personal space. However, recent research suggests that having overconcerned parents might actually make you fortunate.

Conducted by Amber J. Seidel, Ph.D., from Penn State York in Pennsylvania, the study aimed to explore family dynamics because of her belief in the significance of familial relationships.

“While many people share this value, our society tends to focus on family during early childhood. I strive to study topics that help us understand how family continues to be a central part of our lives throughout adulthood, and I advocate for considering family-level influences in all situations,” Seidel stated in an interview with BBC.

The research team examined 186 heterosexual married couples in their late 50s who had an average of 2-3 adult children. Parents were asked to rate, on a scale of 1 to 8, the frequency with which they provided various types of support to their adult children. The types of support ranged from financial assistance and emotional support to advice and discussions.

Parents often experience stress when it comes to their children, so they were also asked to rate, on a scale of 1-5, how much they worried about supporting their adult children. A rating of 1 represented “not at all” while 5 represented “a great deal.”

According to the research findings, wives reported sleeping an average of 6.66 hours per night, while husbands slept around 6.69 hours. These results were based on parents’ self-reported sleep duration.

The study revealed that, for husbands, providing support to their grown children was associated with poorer sleep quality. Conversely, husbands experienced better sleep when their wives reported providing support for the children. The research did not find a similar impact on women’s sleep.

Women’s sleep was negatively affected due to their children, but stress levels regarding this issue did not appear to impact husbands’ sleep.

The research indicated that the act of providing support affected men, whereas stress related to providing support affected women. Seidel suggests that these results may stem from the high level of involvement many parents have in their adult children’s lives.

“Current research on young adults suggests that parents and children maintain high levels of involvement. Although parents and adult children have always been somewhat involved, we now observe a rise in what is commonly referred to as ‘helicopter parenting’ and ‘landing pad’ children,” Seidel explained.

Furthermore, Seidel highlighted how technological advancements such as mobile phones and social media platforms have allowed parents to have a broader view of their children’s lives. This increased visibility further fuels parental concern.

Given that parents face significant stress, they are advised to adopt coping strategies like exercise or therapy.

“It’s important to remember that stress itself is not the problem; rather, it’s the inability to cope with stress in healthy ways that can lead to immune suppression,” Seidel emphasized.

Parents should also be mindful of the level of involvement they have in their children’s lives. They need to assess whether they are being controlling or genuinely supportive. Seidel offered this suggestion.

However, if you feel that your parents are overly involved in your life and excessively concerned about you, it’s essential to understand that you are a part of them. They played a crucial role in shaping who you are. It’s a natural instinct for parents to care deeply for their children. Each child is an extension of the parent.

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