How to reduce stress on your parents

shitzhu00 asks: My mom is going through a lot of stress right now and is struggling with money. My siblings and I aren’t the best children, but what happens if she suddenly comes home with a bottle of beer in her hand and becomes an alcoholic? What would I do then?

Hi shitzhu00 –



I think you’re really asking me two questions.  The first is how best to deal with your mom’s stress.


I actually have two different answers to that one, which will sound like they completely disagree with each other.  One is to do everything you can to reduce her stress and not add to it.  The second is to accept that you can’t fix it, and allow that you’ll add to her stress at times and that’s okay.


Adults get stressed a lot, and kids add to it in every way.  They have to make more money to pay for their kids’ needs, and they come home to whatever issues the kids are going through.  Life is tough enough with 24 hours a day of stress, but when you add kids in, it can seem more like 50 hours a day!  So it’d be great if you could do what you can to lower her stress level.  If, when she asks you to do something, you do it the first time she asks, that can do wonders.  If you can keep your room clean, do your chores, and do your homework – all without her having to remind you, you’re a dream.  These are great things that really make parents’ lives easier.  Oh and try to keep from getting into too much trouble outside of home too!


But at the same time – she knew what she was getting into when she had you.  Parents don’t (or at least shouldn’t) expect their kids to never cause them any sort of worry or extra work.  You have a real life.  Live it.  If you get a lousy grade at school, or get in trouble doing something with a friend, will that stress her out?  Sure.  So will you getting sick, or getting heartbroken because someone at school was mean to you.  But these are part of growing up!  Don’t put so much pressure on yourself to make her life easy that you miss out on your own life.


So I guess what these two answers add up to is one statement – Do what you can to reduce her stress on a daily basis, but accept it that things will go wrong in your life that stress her somewhat, and know that this doesn’t make you a bad person.


But now there’s that second question you asked:  Will your mother’s stress mean that she comes home with a beer, and will she be an alcoholic?


Your mom may well find that her stress can be lessened at times with the help of a drink.  Many many people let that help them relax.  And if that happens, as long as she doesn’t have any special issues, she’ll be fine.  Many scientists have actually found that a small bit of an alcoholic drink on a regular basis can help some people’s hearts.  One beer shouldn’t be a problem.


However, other people have a disease called Alcoholism, an addiction, which is very dangerous to them and those around them.  These people can never safely have a drink.  They need to do very particular work to help them live with cravings, which often cause severe pain in their lives.  If your mother is such a person, then she shouldn’t be drinking any alcohol ever, regardless of how stressed she is.  And on that note, if she does suffer from that disease, that is not your fault.  It’s a genetic issue, and a very sad one. You could then help her deal with it, but in no way should you think you’re in any way responsible for it.


So my OVERALL statement to you, shitzhu00, is to relax a bit.  Clean your room, do your homework, be polite… and then stop worrying so much.  Your mom is a grownup, and will deal with her money issues however she sees best.  But my guess is that if she can come home every day and see you happy and doing well, that will be the best medicine she can possibly get, for everything that ails her.


Hope things get better,


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