20 Family Stresses and Top 10 Ratings from Married Women, Married Men and Single Mothers

Delores Curran in her book Stress and the Healthy Family started out with a longer list of family stresses that affect how well the family functions and works together. This was narrowed down to the top 10 lists as the families in the study were surveyed.

She defined dis-stress as a condition that exists when family life gets out of control. Ms. Curran lists the following symptoms of a constantly stressful family:

  • A constant sense of urgency and hurried; no time to release and relax
  • Tension that underlies and causes sharp words, sibling fighting, misunderstandings
  • A mania to escape -to one’s room, car, garage, away
  • Feelings of frustration over not getting things done
  • A feeling that time is passing too quickly; children are growing up too fast
  • A nagging desire for a simpler life; constant talk about times that were or will be simpler
  • Little “me” or couple time
  • A pervasive sense of guilt for not being and doing everything to and for all the people in one’s life

TOP 20 Family Stresses

The following list of stresses were not highly ranked, so they were dropped from the final survey. They include some everyday stresses, major crisis situations or pervasive individual issues. They were not as common, however, will still benefit by the helpful strategies given in the book.

The retirement



House guests

Nuclear and environmental fears

Older parents church and school activities

family vacations


Relationship with former spouse


Unsatisfactory housing

Two-paycheck family

Organized sports/activities

Change and work patterns


Religious differences


Pre-dinner hour


Now we will list the rankings for Married Women, Married Men and Single Mothers.

  2.  Insufficient couple of timeLack of shared responsibility in the familyGuilt for not accomplishing more
 3.Communicating with childrenInsufficient couple of timeInsufficient “me” time
 4.Children’s behavior/ discipline/ sibling fightingChildren’s behavior/ discipline/ sibling fightingSelf-image/self-esteem/ feelings of unattractiveness
 5.Spousal relationship                     (communication, friendship, sex)Housekeeping standardsChildren’s behavior/ discipline/ sibling fighting
 6.Over a scheduled family calendarInsufficient “me” timeUnhappiness with work situation
   7.Insufficient “me” timeGuilt for not accomplishing moreHousekeeping standards
 8.Unhappiness with work situationInsufficient family play timeCommunicating with children
 9.Insufficient family play timeSpousal relationship                     (communication, friendship, sex)Insufficient family play time
 10.TelevisionSelf-image/self-esteem/ feelings of unattractivenessLack of shared responsibility in the family

Source: Curran, D. (n.d.). Stress and the Healthy Family.

Next: How perspective is vital in managing Stress and Crisis.

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