Parents With Three Kids Are The Most Stressed, According To Study

parents of three kids
Image: iStock / DGLimages

When you have a kid, life changes like WHOA. It gets amazing, yes, but it also gets a whole lot more stressful. But then you think, “hey, I did this once, we can do another one, right?” So you have another kid, and wouldn’t you know, it gets even MORE stressful. Your stress level multiplies with every kid like some kind of messed up math problem. Now, you’d think that parents who have lots and lots of kids have the most stress, right? But as it turns out, parents of three kids are more stressed than parents with fewer AND more than three kids. It’s like the magic number, but in a not great way.

A new study says that parents of three kids are the most stressed. I was sort of surprised by this!

The Today show conducted a survey on its website on parental stress, and about 7,000 parents responded to the survey. Now, you’d totally expect parents of three kids to be more stressed than parents of one or two kids. But the results of the survey revealed some pretty interesting information. Not only were parents of three kids more stressed than parents of fewer kids, they were also more stressed than parents who have more than three kids. In fact, the survey revealed that parents of four kids were the least stressed out of all the respondents! Apparently, psychologists have determined that four is the number of kids at which parents stop trying to be perfect (LOL). They realize that there’s no way in hell they can devote themselves 100% of every single one of their children, so they relax and just go with the flow a bit more. Makes sense!

So what it is about three kids that brings the most parental stress?

The majority of survey respondents said that having limited time to devote to their kid’s needs was the biggest source of stress. For parents of three kids, their stress levels are higher because they have three kids to divide their time between, but haven’t quite accepted or admitted that they can’t be that perfect parent.

In another ironic twist, 72% of the parents who participated in the survey said that their stress makes their stress worse. In other words, parenting stresses them out, but then they stress out even more because they’re stressed out over parenting! It’s a vicious cycle.

Listen, we’re all just trying to do the best we can, and we need to kinder to and more forgiving of ourselves. Parents of three kids, four kids, one kid, it doesn’t matter! You’re doing great, we promise.

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