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Call Your Parents: Study Finds Olders Parents Worry And Lose Sleep Over Their Adult Children

Call Your Parents: Study Finds Olders Parents Worry And Lose Sleep Over Their Adult Children

Can parents really stop distressing themselves over their children's well-being even when they are well into our adulthood? Well, the answer is no.

As a child grows up, their parents have the biggest influence on their life. But that changes when they begin exploring the rest world, leaving their parents concerned. Now the protectiveness does make sense considering childhood and adolescence is one of the most important stages in one's development. That being said, once they cross this phase and become adults, this extreme worry seems to sort of decline. But is that really the case? Can parents really stop distressing themselves over their children's well-being even when they are well into our adulthood? Well, the answer is no because they share a close emotional bond with their young ones which makes them instinctively worry whenever their kids are in trouble.

Representative image source: Getty | Photo by Lucy Lambriex

A study published in The Gerontologist Journal explained how many older adults constantly worry about their grown children. It interestingly revealed that their level of stress at this point is the same as while they were raising them. The findings may leave readers surprised, considering that by the time the children grew up and left the nest, the parents would be living their own life to the fullest. But consider this, during infancy and schooling while the child would have been more susceptible to risk and harm, they were at least close to them. Having the kids around, in their own home, definitely puts one's mind at ease. On the contrary, it's only after a son or daughter leaves home for college or work that the anxiety kicks in for most mothers and fathers. 

The study was guided by family gerontologist Amber J. Seidl, Ph.D., from Penn State York who spoke to CBS and acknowledged that one's family continues playing a vital role even in the later stages of their life, and thus the impact was needed to be studied. "I feel that many share this value, yet I think much of the socialization in our culture focuses on the family when children are younger," she explained. "I seek to study topics that help us understand how family continues to be a central part of our lives throughout adulthood, and I encourage considering family-level influences in all situations." The subjects of the study were 186 heterosexual married couples who had two or three grown-up kids on average.



 

The men, who were a part of this experiment, had an average age of 58 while women were at an average age of 57. In the due course of the study, participants were asked to rate the degree of support they provided their grown children on a scale of 1 to 8, with 1 being the highest amount of support and 8 being the lowest, as little as once a year. After analyzing the ratings, it was found that many couples continuously worry over their adult children. A correlation was found between their anxiety for the kids and their quality of sleep. The study also suggested that parents' relationships with their adult children have different associations for sleep quality among middle-aged husbands and wives.

"Current research on young adults suggests that parents and children are maintaining high levels of involvement. Although parents and adult children have always maintained some level of involvement, we do see an increase in what is often termed 'helicopter parenting' and 'landing pad' children," explained Seidel of their findings. She also claimed that the extensive use of smartphones and social media has only added to the parents' existing concerns as they are frequently able to see what their children are doing or going through and who they are surrounding themselves with.



 

Concluding the survey, Seidel urged parents of adult children to examine the kind of support that they offer them hoping that it would make the relationship with their kids more transparent. "Are you enabling your child by rewarding lazy or destructive behaviors? Are you trying to control your child in any way? Or are you simply letting your adult child live their life while providing unconditional support?" she asked. The study ultimately asserted that the level of involvement that parents engage in their adult children's lives, or the way they perceive their child receiving support definitely affects their sleep cycles. 

References:

https://academic.oup.com/gerontologist/article/58/2/341/2951101

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/parents-lose-sleep-worrying-about-grown-children/

Representative cover image source: Getty | Photo by Nastasic