Study: with or without a child: stress is stress

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Parents feel stressed - childless ones too

According to a recent study, many parents feel stressed. The double burden of children and careers puts a strain on mothers and fathers. But even childless people suffer from stress during the "rush hour of life".

Stressed parents and childless According to the current health report of the German Employee Health Insurance Fund (DAK), one fifth of mothers and 17 percent of fathers between the mid-20s and early 40s felt chronic stress. The result was very similar for childless children of the same age. Among them, too, about a fifth of women and around 18 percent of men felt permanently stressed. Around 3,000 German citizens between the ages of 25 and 40 were interviewed for the study in December.

Rush hour of life Among social scientists, the age range between 30 and 40 is now often regarded as the so-called "rush hour of life". Because young adults now usually have to make decisions about career planning and children at the same time in a shorter time than before. In the survey, the suspicion that this marathon drained the young parents more strongly than 20 or 30 years ago was not confirmed. Hans Bertram, sociologist at Berlin's Humboldt University, evaluated the study result on Thursday: "There are significantly fewer overwhelmed young parents than expected." He says: "This is a positive message."

Without a child professionally in general, the results were surprising. The report states: "Working parents, mothers and fathers, do not show increased stress from chronic stress." There were also no differences between parents and childless people in terms of sick leave. "Even mothers who work full-time have no higher stress levels than mothers who work part-time or are not employed mothers," as the DAK writes. The study also shows some problems. For example, about half of all mothers indicated that they would continue their career without a child. It was also found that more than half of the childless women (53 percent) fear for the right balance between job and private life. Only 43 percent of mothers do this.

Parents at a disadvantage in relation to leisure time Parents are at a disadvantage in relation to leisure time and sport compared to childless people. Working parents would obviously pay less attention to their health than people without children. Since many lack the time, only about 17 percent of working mothers do a lot of sport, but about one in three of childless women do so. And lack of sleep is also more common among mothers. According to the report, only 48 percent pay attention to sufficient recovery. At least 61 percent of the childless women.

Fathers have a bad conscience About half of the fathers complain about not having enough time for themselves. This would be 43 percent of the men without offspring. Half of the fathers have a guilty conscience because they think they are not enough for their children. When it comes to sporting activities, the differences between men and women are similar. Only around 23 percent of full-time fathers would be able to do a lot of sport. In the childless men, it is a good ten percent more. Just like mothers, fathers would rarely provide enough sleep and relaxation (around 42 percent) than men without children (51 percent). The study also found that fathers consume more alcohol and cigarettes than childless men.

Prevention is particularly important Even though many of the results of the health report are entirely positive, the DAK still points out the health problems of the young generation. Many of those interviewed said they had back pain and experienced depressive phases. Hypertension, which is often associated with stress and lack of exercise, is also a problem for some. Many chronic diseases, especially in the early phase, could be influenced by a healthy lifestyle. Prevention is particularly important in this phase of life. (sb)

Image: Benjamin Thorn /

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