Five com­mon fam­ily pres­sures — and how to deal with them

Stressed about money or a lack of qual­ity time with the kids? LisaSal­mon’s tips could make life eas­ier

Belfast Telegraph - - LIFE -

While fam­ily life can be full of fun, it can also be full of ten­sion: three in four British adults — equat­ing to al­most 38 mil­lion peo­ple — feel their fam­ily is un­der pres­sure.

Re­search for char­ity Fam­ily Ac­tion found the top five fam­ily pres­sures were money, health and well­ness, lack of time to­gether, pres­sure from work or ed­u­ca­tion, and re­la­tion­ships.

Some fam­i­lies don’t get any help when it comes to deal­ing with these pres­sures, claim­ing they’re pre­vented by psy­cho­log­i­cal bar­ri­ers, such as feel­ing other peo­ple need more sup­port (12%), lack of con­fi­dence (11%), em­bar­rass­ment (9%), and feel­ing scared of be­ing judged (9%). And 14% aren’t even sure who could help them.

But Fam­ily Ac­tion chief ex­ec­u­tive David Holmes says get­ting help is vi­tal, and that’s why the char­ity has launched the Fam­ily Mon­sters Project, along­side a new Fam­i­lyLine helpline.

The free Fam­i­lyLine (0808 802 6666) is open be­tween 6pm and 10pm on week­days, and 10am and 1pm at week­ends, or fam­i­lies can e-mail fam­i­[email protected] fam­ily-ac­tion.org.uk.

“Fam­ily mon­sters are a nor­mal part of fam­ily life but can grow when they’re kept hid­den away,” says Holmes. “Sim­ply talk­ing about them can stop them be­com­ing over­whelm­ing.”

Here, Holmes out­lines the big­gest fam­ily mon­sters and sug­gests where help can be found...

1. MONEY

More than half of peo­ple (52%) say money is one of the pres­sures they face in their fam­ily.

As well as not hav­ing enough money, peo­ple say debt, the cost of liv­ing and hous­ing costs are cur­rent pres­sures.

“If you’re strug­gling to make ends meet, do some­thing — don’t wait un­til you can’t pay the bills,” stresses Holmes.

It can be help­ful to cre­ate a bud­get to set out what money you’ve got com­ing in, your fi­nan­cial com­mit­ments and where you could spend less.

Holmes says Fam­ily Ac­tion has helped many fam­i­lies sort out money mat­ters, such as check­ing they’re get­ting all the state ben­e­fits they’re en­ti­tled to, ne­go­ti­at­ing a debt re­pay­ment plan with a lender, or shop­ping around for a cheaper en­ergy deal.

Where to get help: Fam­i­lies can try the Money Ad­vice Ser­vice (mon­eyad­vice­ser­vice.org. uk) and Cit­i­zen’s Ad­vice (cit­i­zen­sad­vice.org.uk).

2. HEALTH AND WELL­NESS

Half of peo­ple say health and well­ness, in­clud­ing phys­i­cal and men­tal health and dis­abil­ity, is one of the pres­sures they face.

Un­der­stand­ing who to ap­proach and what help is avail­able is of­ten stress­ful it­self, so Fam­ily Ac­tion sug­gests writ­ing down what you need to go through with your GP be­fore an ap­point­ment, in­clud­ing any wor­ries you may have, or what’s been hap­pen­ing at home.

If your child has a long-term health con­di­tion, go through their in­di­vid­ual health­care plan with their head­teacher and check the school’s pol­icy on sup­port­ing stu­dents with long-term health needs.

Holmes ad­vises: “Par­ents can feel all their at­ten­tion needs to be on their child, or an older rel­a­tive who needs sup­port, but not look­ing after your­self or stay­ing healthy can make manag­ing pres­sures even harder.”

Where to get help: The NHS Live Well (nhs.uk/live-well) scheme of­fers use­ful tips on how to make the best health and well­be­ing choices.

3. LACK OF TIME TO­GETHER

Half of par­ents (49%) are wor­ried about not hav­ing enough time to­gether, or not hav­ing qual­ity time to­gether, be­cause of other pres­sures such as work.

How­ever, Holmes points out: “Qual­ity time doesn’t have to be lots of time. It could sim­ply be eat­ing din­ner as a fam­ily, play­ing a game or go­ing for a walk in the park.”

He says psy­chol­o­gists sug­gest the nine most im­por­tant min­utes in a child’s day are the first three after they wake up, when you or they get home, and just be­fore bed­time.

“This is when to give them your full at­ten­tion,” he adds. “You might feel un­der pres­sure to go on ex­pen­sive days out, but sim­ply cre­at­ing a den in the gar­den can be as good for boost­ing your fam­ily’s bond and for cre­at­ing happy mem­o­ries.”

Where to get help: Con­tact

4. PRES­SURE FROM WORK OR ED­U­CA­TION

Two in five peo­ple are feel­ing pres­sure from work or ed­u­ca­tion (40%), with the Fam­ily Ac­tion re­search iden­ti­fy­ing work pres­sures, in­clud­ing job se­cu­rity wor­ries as well as job hunt­ing or be­ing out of work and try­ing to strike the cor­rect work-life bal­ance.

Ed­u­ca­tion pres­sures fo­cus on wor­ries about a child’s ed­u­ca­tion and their fu­ture prospects. As well as tack­ling the cur­ricu­lum, chil­dren may find re­la­tion­ships with peers and/or teach­ers hard, so it’s im­por­tant for par­ents to help man­age these wor­ries, says Holmes.

“Take a few min­utes to give your child your full at­ten­tion. Lis­ten to what they have to say and show un­der­stand­ing in your re­sponses,” he ad­vises. “Be spe­cific in what you ask and show you’ve lis­tened to what they’ve said. This will help you draw out what they’re think­ing and feel­ing.”

Where to get help: Be brave enough to raise any is­sues you’re wor­ried about with your em­ployer or your child’s school. Com­mu­ni­ca­tion is key.

5. FAM­ILY RE­LA­TION­SHIPS

Fam­ily re­la­tion­ships (37%) was the fifth big­gest pres­sure iden­ti­fied by Fam­ily Ac­tion, and within that, lack of com­mu­ni­ca­tion (19%) and ar­gu­ments or dis­putes (16%) were the most com­mon re­la­tion­ship prob­lems re­ported.

Holmes points out that be­com­ing a par­ent can have a huge im­pact on per­sonal re­la­tion­ships and fam­ily dy­nam­ics, as can sepa­ra­tion, divorce and in­tro­duc­ing a new part­ner to the fam­ily. “It will take time for things to set­tle and for a new rou­tine to be found — and it will take work,” he says.

“Ex­plain this to chil­dren and make sure you find some oneon-one time with them.

“In­volve your chil­dren in set­ting fam­ily rules and be con­sis­tent en­forc­ing these. Show your chil­dren how to play to­gether, as well as how to re­solve and re­cover from dif­fer­ences”

Where to get help: If you’re strug­gling with new par­ent­ing re­spon­si­bil­i­ties, don’t wait to ask for help — in­stead, talk to your health vis­i­tor or GP about how you’re feel­ing or call Fam­ily Ac­tion’s Fam­i­lyLine. Meet­ing other peo­ple in a sim­i­lar sit­u­a­tion can help, for ex­am­ple, sup­port groups for sin­gle par­ents like Gin­ger­bread (gin­ger­bread. org.uk). your lo­cal au­thor­ity to find out what free ac­tiv­i­ties for fam­i­lies are on of­fer, and scour the what’s on pages of your lo­cal news­pa­per for things to do.

Stressed out: three in four adults feel their fam­ily is un­der pres­sure

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