Turns out the answer to this question matters a lot, according to the folks who make a test for it.
They’ve just released an updated version, the Parenting Stress Index 4. This is no ordinary Internet quiz; you won’t be able to take it quickly online. The Parenting Stress Index is a clinical tool for identifying how stressed out moms and dads are. It’s something you’d take in your doctor’s office, or with a social worker.
Why should you care how stressed you are? Well, in addition to all the unhealthy effects on you, stress hurts your ability to be an awesome parent. That’s no good for your kids, and ultimately leads to more stress for you.
The Parenting Stress Index is used to identify risk factors for neglect and abuse, but also to suss out which families are most likely to need help managing behavioral issues with children. Over 100 questions in different areas help give clinicians a pretty accurate picture of what your home life is like, and how stressful it is.
According to their press release on the topic:
Parenting stress is an important factor in child development. “High levels of parenting stress are associated with and predict a wide range of dysfunctional parenting behavior and negative child outcomes,” says Dr. Richard Abidin, professor of clinical and school psychology at the University of Virginia and author of the PSI-4. “Reduced sensitivity, lack of warmth, harsh—if not abusive—and neglecting behaviors, and the inability to provide a secure and supportive home environment can negatively impact children’s psychological development and educational competence.” The test provides information that may be used for designing a treatment plan, for setting priorities for intervention, and/or for follow-up evaluation.
We all have bad days, of course. Parenting is super stressful even under the best circumstances. But if you feel like you’re situation is under chronic stress in a way that’s affecting your parenting, you might want to talk to your doctor about taking this evaluation. The test itself won’t solve your problems, but it’ll give you more information to work with.