Juggling Financial Stress and Caregiving, Parents Are ‘Very Not OK’ in the Pandemic

Sixty percent of households with children across the country have lost jobs, or businesses, or have had wages reduced during the pandemic, according to a poll released Wednesday by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

The poll also found 74% of households with children that made less than $100,000 report facing serious financial problems.

“We’re seeing skyrocketing rates of job losses and food insecurity and stress,” says Anna Johnson, a developmental psychologist at Georgetown University. “I think it will be very hard for these families who’ve lost income and jobs to get back to where they were. I think there will just be a lot of stress and turmoil in the household for the foreseeable future … that takes a toll.”

That toll isn’t just on the parents, who’re struggling to make ends meet, but also on their children, says Johnson.

With stressed-out parents at home, no school to escape to and a lack of in-person interaction with friends, children have fewer ways to cope with their circumstances, says psychologist Archana Basu of the T.H. Chan Harvard School of Public Health. Neither Basu nor Johnson were involved with the poll.

Basu and Johnson worry that this may leave a lasting impact on kids’ mental health and education. “You have really big potential achievement gaps, really big potential mental health problems from isolation,” says Johnson.

Parental stress from financial hardship affects children’s emotional well-being and cognitive development, says Basu.

“Typically we know that children do best when they are with emotionally available, consistent and responsive caregivers, and that’s what we know helps them,” says Basu.

This is especially helpful during stressful situations, like this pandemic, when children are also experiencing a tremendous amount of change and transition.

But if their parents are not as available emotionally, they are less able to see that their kids are struggling, too, she adds.

Excerpted from “Juggling Financial Stress and Caregiving, Parents Are ‘Very Not OK’ in the Pandemic” on NPR’s Health Shots. Read the full article. Listen to this NPR podcast about how the financial caused by COVID-19 is taking a toll on the mental health of parents and affecting their children:

Source: NPR | Juggling Financial Stress and Caregiving, Parents Are ‘Very Not OK’ in the Pandemic, https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2020/09/30/918158081/juggling-financial-stress-and-caregiving-parents-are-very-not-ok-in-the-pandemic |© 2020 npr

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