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.

Why Consider Faith in God, Jesus and Biblical Authority in our Spiritual Well-Being?

You might be asking, “What does all this talk about faith, God, Jesus and the Bible have to do with family connections?”


I have come to believe that as we develop our identity as a person and interact with other people, this topic of spiritual well-being is at the foundation of our understanding of ourselves and our relationships with each other in the family. We gain wisdom for life and relationships from the Bible. We find out who we are and how we belong with a worldview that includes God and Jesus.


Why would I say that? I would challenge you to look at the world and ask the question, “Is the world as it should be or is there something wrong?” I believe you would be hard pressed to say the world is as it should be. So, what is wrong and how did it get that way?


I would like you to join me in exploring your identity and family relationships from a different perspective. I would like us to zoom out and look at our lives and relationships from a 35,000-foot view.

Ok, here we are at 35,000 feet and looking at life. The first thing I notice is: There is good and evil; right and wrong; light and darkness; life and death. There appears to be two opposing forces in life.

This idea of opposing forces is explained differently in different cultures and based on the worldview you have embraced. I have been experiencing & studying the effects of these two opposing forces all my adult life, just as most of you have. I have had experiences from both forces. I have been wounded deeply by actions I have taken as well as actions of others toward me. I have wounded others with my actions, damaging important relationships in my life. I also have created healing in relationships in my life and have enduring friendships that have been life-giving and been healing to my wounds. Through all these experiences I have concluded, I want to be aligned with the good, the right, the light and life.


So how do I align with the good, the right, the light and life?

At the risk of sounding simplistic, there has been only one person in history that has told us how to align with the good, the right, the light and life. That person is Jesus Christ. Jesus said He came to give us life and demonstrated how to love the poor, the diseased even people with messy lives as well as enemies. He loved to the point of willingly putting himself in a position, as an innocent person to die a painful death for seemingly no reason and forgave those who killed him. His life and teachings can’t just be considered good teaching about life. Jesus doesn’t give us that option. He made many bold statements including this, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father but through me.” He was either a liar, a lunatic or who he claimed to be.

As C.S. Lewis once said, “I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him [that is, Christ]: ‘I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.’ That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic–on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg–or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse…. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come up with any patronising nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”

The final actions of Jesus to validate his divine nature was his resurrection from the dead, appearing to his disciples and ascending to heaven. There is no grave with the bone of Jesus to visit.

I will explore this further in future blog posts.

Next, we will explore the needs we all have and how to meet those needs.

How well are you loving your children?

Our life depends on the air that we breath, we die without it. In the same way our relationships emotionally die without appreciation and affection.

Gary Chapman, Ph.D. & Ross Campbell, M.D. share in their book The Five Love Languages for Children that your children (and all your relationships) will experience your love more fully if you communicate with them in their primary love language. That is the way you individually like to experience love and feel the connection more fully. When you speak in their primary love language they get their emotional love tank (similar to a car’s gas tank) filled so they can function best in life. If their emotional love tank is not filled, they often go to great lengths to get those needs met, sometimes using destructive behaviors.

The key is to observe how your child expresses love to you and others. This will be the way they will best receive love.

  • Words of AffirmationDemonstrate your love using the power of words. Catch your children doing well and commend them for it.
  • Words of affection and endearment
  • Words of praise and encouragement
  • Words of positive guidance
  • Physical TouchDemonstrate your love using physical touch.
  • Hugs & Kisses
  • High Five’s
  • Running your fingers through their hair
  • Riding them piggyback
  • Wrestling on the floor
  • Shoulder rubs
  • Arm around shoulders
  • Holding hands               
  • Act of ServiceDemonstrate your love by freely and cheerfully helping your child in areas of their life. Helping your child do what they can’t do for themselves.
  • Fix a bike
  • Mend a toy
  • Quality TimeDemonstrate your love by giving your undivided attention during personal one-on-one time with each child alone.
  • At bedtime
  • Read a story
  • Walks
  • Running errands
  • GiftsDemonstrate your love by giving gifts both large or small. Give them in a way that will have meaning for your child.
  • Make gifts
  • Treats
  • Make the giving an event

Next: Digging for Diamonds: Hunting for hidden talents

Blaha, Blaha, Blaha- How to communicate and be heard.


We all want to be heard when we are having a conversation with others. The keys to being heard may be simpler than you might think.

Have you ever had a conversation with someone who was distracted by something else or looking at their watch? In your mind, what were you thinking? “What you are distracted by must be more important than me! What you have planned after our meeting must be better than talking with me!”

It’s interesting how our body language impacts our communication and connection in our relationships.

The foundations of positive communication are very simple skills that increase the connection of one person with another. I believe we all know these skills; however, we often get caught up in the hectic pace of life that distracts us from what matters most in our lives- connections in our relationships.

Here are simple body language skills that will promote connection:

  • Give undivided attention
  • Look at the person
  • Smile

Positive Communication consist of 2 basic skills:

  1. Be interested in the other person and show your interest by asking open ended questions. Open ended question can be answered with more than a word or short phrase.


Tell me about your day.

What is going on in your world?

How did you react to that situation?

2. Actively listen to what the other person said.

How to Actively Listen:

  • Listen patiently, allow them to say all they need to say.
  • Listen for feelings.
  • Look for non-verbal messages.
  • After the person makes a statement to you- You say, “Let me see if I understood you- Did you mean…… “

Defining Stress and Crisis


One of the most overwhelming parts of life is when stress or crisis attack us. Stress and Crisis often feel like we are under attack because it produces confusion in our attempt to have a life of stability and order. These twins of chaos have two different ways of appearing in our lives and can have a devastating and destructive impact on our lives and our relationships.

Stresses are those small drumbeats of daily circumstances that chip away at the foundation of stability in our lives. Stress ranges from junk mail/robo-calls; burning the toast; things that break or don’t work the way we want/need to rude or disrespectful interactions; conflict in work or family relationships; betrayals & destructive relationships.

Crisis is the bigger events of life that crash on us like a tsunami. These events are often unpredictable traumatic events that catch us by surprise. They overwhelm the internal resources in us that would normally help us effectively deal with the event.   

We often joke about Murphy’s Law- If anything can go wrong, it will go wrong at the least opportune time. This may bring a smile to our face; however, this may be a pattern of thought that increases your stress.

How can that be? It’s only a funny saying, right?


New research from Concordia University is expanding our knowledge of how optimists and pessimists each handle stress by comparing them not to each other but to themselves. It tells us that the “stress hormone”, cortisol is more stable and better managed by those who view life from a more optimistic way.

The outlook on life, is called explanatory or attributional style. In other words, how does a person explain or what does a person attribute the events that happen in their life.


“Explanatory style” or “attributional style” refers to how people explain the events of their lives. There are three facets of how people can explain a situation. This can influence whether they lean toward being optimists or pessimists:

  • Stable vs. Unstable: Can time change things, or do things stay the same regardless of time?
  • Global vs. Local: Is a situation a reflection of just one part of your life, or your life as a whole?
  • Internal vs. External: Do you feel events are caused by you or by an outside force?

Optimists explain positive events as having happened because of them (internal). They also see them as evidence that more positive things will happen in the future (stable) and in other areas of their lives (global). Conversely, they see negative events as not being their fault (external). They also see them as being flukes (isolated) that have nothing to do with other areas of their lives or future events (local).


Pessimists see positive events as flukes (local) that are caused by things outside their control (external) and probably won’t happen again (unstable). They believe that negative events are caused by them (internal). They believe that one mistake means more will come (stable), and mistakes in other areas of life are inevitable (global), because they are the cause.


In fact, there are many benefits of optimism. The benefits include superior health, greater achievement, resilience, emotional health, increased longevity and less stress.

Next, Strengths Pessimists use in approaching Stress and Crisis.


https://psychcentral.com/news/2013/07/24/optimism-helps-manage-stress-hormones/57543.html. (n.d.).

https://www.verywellmind.com/the-benefits-of-optimism-3144811. (n.d.).

How to Manage Stress and Crisis

Stress is one of the most destructive forces in our lives. Stress and crisis are a part of everyday life and can’t be avoided. Strong families have discovered ways of dealing with stress and crisis that help reduce its destructive impact.

Stress & Crisis Coping Tactics*:

  1. Keep Things in Perspective
  2. Let Go and Let God
  3. Focus on Something Bigger Than Yourself
  4. Humor Yourself
  5. Take One Step at a Time
  6. Refresh and Restore

*Adapted from Fantastic Families by Dr. Nick & Nancy Stinnett and Joe & Alice Beam

How do we have Positive Communication?

Strong families spend large amounts of time in conversation. They talk about small, trivial topics as well as the profound, deep issues of life.

Good Communication follows six (6) rules*:

  1. Allow Enough Time
  2. Listen
  3. Check It Out- Try to understand what was really being said.
  4. Get Inside the Other Person’s World
  5. Keep the Monsters in Late-Night Movies- Avoid criticizing, evaluating or acting superior
  6. Keep It Honest- honesty and openness

* Adapted from Fantastic Families by Dr. Nick & Nancy Stinnett and Joe & Alice Beam

Why Spending Enjoyable Time Together is so important.

Strong families spend immense amounts of time together which leads to opportunities to communicate, nurture relationships, minimizes isolation, loneliness and alienation and provides a family identity. Time is one of the greatest gifts we can give to each other.

Time Together Guidelines*:

  1. Abundant but not Stifling- allows for individualism
  2. Planned but not Mechanical- no goal but to be together
  3. Serendipity- finding good things that were not sought
  4. Quality & Quantity Time Together Includes: Eat Meals; Do House & Yard Chores; Play; Enjoy Religious, Club, School Activities; Special Events; Do Nothing in Particular

* Adapted from Fantastic Families by Dr. Nick & Nancy Stinnett and Joe & Alice Beam

Next: How do you use your time?

What is Appreciation and Affection about?

Strong family relationships are permeated with expressions of appreciation and affection. They let each other know that on a daily basis that each is appreciated but with an added ingredient- real and genuine feelings, “from the heart”.

Appreciation & Affection has six (6) secrets to cultivation*:

  1. Dig for Diamonds- find those hidden qualities in each other
  2. Affirm Your Children Verbally
  3. Expect Your Children to be Affectionate & Appreciative
  4. Share Humor & Playfulness
  5. Purposely Encourage Affection & Appreciation

*Adapted from Fantastic Families by Dr. Nick & Nancy Stinnett and Joe & Alice Beam

What is Commitment to Family about?

Commitment to family is the foundation on which the other five family strength characteristics are built. The family is the place where we learn that we have value as a person and that we belong. Family is the place where we are protected from the dangers of the world and are empowered with the skills to protect ourselves. Family is the place where we learn how to relate to others- developing trust in relationships; realizing we will get hurt and learning to forgive and how to repair wounded relationships. Family is the place where you learn the values to live by and traditions to hold dear. Family is the place where you can always come home to.

Commitment to Family has six (6) characteristics*:

1.Commitment to Marriage

2.Commitment to Each Individual

3.Commitment to Putting First Things First

4.Commitment to Honesty

5.Commitment to Family Traditions

6.Commitment to the Long Haul

*Adapted from Fantastic Families by Dr. Nick & Nancy Stinnett and Joe & Alice Beam