Study Claims That Having Three Kids Can Be Most Stressful For Parents

It isn't surprising for most parents to find that having children can be stressful. What might be unexpected is that parents of three children are more likely to be stressed by parenthood than even the parents of larger broods.

The Today Show's website conducted a survey that returned some surprising results. Although it is expected that a parent of three children might have more stress than a parent with fewer children, what was surprising was that these parents were more stressed than parents of more children.

Apost.com

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In fact, the study of approximately 7,000 parents revealed that parents of four children were the least stressed of all the parents polled. Psychologists have explained that by the fourth or fifth child, a parent tends to focus less on perfectionism as a parent. The fourth child is typically the point when a parent realizes that they do not have the time nor mental faculties to devote to perfection for each of their children. Instead, they become a bit more relaxed.

For most parents, the limited time they have to devote to their children's needs is their biggest source of stress. In fact, this was found to be an issue for 60 percent of the people polled. Unfortunately for parents of three children, their time is now divided among three children, but the parents are not yet able to admit that they can't (and maybe shouldn't) strive for perfectionism.

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Compounding these parents' frustration is that they become stressed that they are stressed. Seventy-two percent of the parents polled cited their stress as a factor that caused them to be more stressed. These parents feel that if they were better parents, they wouldn't be so harried. So, their stress levels become proof that they are doing something wrong, which causes further stress in a never-ending cycle.

However, it isn't just the parents of three children who are more stressed than their peers. Parents of daughters are also notably more stressed than the parents of boys.

Although the results study didn't include any information on the parents of transgender or gender non-conforming children, the parents of daughters indicated higher stress levels than the parents of boys.

This doesn't necessarily mean that the girls, themselves, are more difficult. There are some strong societal factors that make raising a daughter more difficult than raising a son. Girls often have more expectations regarding their behavior, their attire, and their body than boys do, which can create outside pressure on girls as well as their parents.


If you know someone with three children, or even someone raising daughters, make sure they give this article a read. It might just make them feel a little better to know they aren't alone.