Contrary to what many might expect, researchers from Arizona State University recently discovered that mothers of middle schoolers report feeling more stress than moms with children of other ages. Surprisingly enough, it is not the mothers of newborns, who are experiencing sleep deprivation and the anxiety of their new role as a mom, or the mothers of teenagers. Instead, researchers found that mothers of middle school children reported the highest levels of loneliness, feelings of emptiness and increased stress.
The findings, although initially surprising, can be explained by the fact that middle school aged children are dealing with a tremendous amount of changes all at once, including increasing peer pressure, exposure to drugs and alcohol, powerful hormones, and changing brains and bodies, all while struggling for independence but still needing to rely on their parents for so much. The reason why this age group causes such a high level of stress for mothers, therefore, comes from how quickly this sudden change in their middle schoolers occurs, and is made worse when moms are not ready and are caught off guard. When parents of middle schoolers continue to look at their adolescents as if they were little, the children tend to push back, and this conflict can cause a great deal of anxiety and stress in the family dynamic.
So what can mothers of middle schoolers do to decrease the influx of stress and improve interactions with their children during this challenging age? Several helpful tips and more information about the study can be found here on CNN.