Great Parenting May Be Terrible For Your Health

Photo: Ikon Images/REX Shutterstock
This might be the ultimate irony of raising kids right: New research finds empathetic parenting poses unhealthy side effects for moms and dads, Quartz reports.

Children of empathetic parents glean a host of psychological and physical benefits, and those parents report higher self-esteem and sense of life purpose in exchange. But over time, exercising empathy and relating to kids' concerns and hardships can take a biological toll. Specifically, a study out of Northwestern University found a strong relationship between parental empathy and chronic, low-grade cellular inflammation, as well as elevated stress hormone production.

Though surprising, this latest empathy-inflammation correlation isn't groundbreaking. Previous research has established the hidden health costs of caregiving. By definition, empathy sets personal needs aside in favor of others', which can translate to more hectic and sleep-deprived lifestyles that promote cellular chaos.

Fortunately for children, the trick to diminishing these potential negative health impacts isn't to go from being Modern Family's Phil Dunphy to Scandal's coldhearted Eli Pope. Erika M. Manczak, the study's lead author and psychology student at Northwestern University, told Quartz that parents simply need to be more mindful of self-care.

“Things like getting enough sleep, exercising, and reducing stress are all related to these types of immune processes,” Manczak advised. “It’s not selfish for parents to make time for those things — it’s actually critical for their own mental and physical health.”

We also hear wine possesses incredible, chill-inducing properties and pairs well with a quiet house after the kids have gone to bed.

More from Mind

As told to Amelia Harnish I never imagined I’d be a person who left college the same day I arrived. For me, venturing off to school had high stakes. ...
No one goes through life trying to be a horrible person. But sometimes, it's a challenge to go that extra mile (or even just a few steps) out of your way...
Living with anxiety can feel like a constant battle. You have to stay alert to catch anxiety creeping up on you, and it can turn into an all-day fight to ...
(Paid Content) Taking short breaks during the workday can bring your sanity back to earth. Of course, they have a calming effect, but did you know breaks ...
We explore the unconscious messages a voice can give off and why snap judgments can be harmful, even if they're innocent
It's not always easy to predict how much you're going to drink when you go out — or how drunk you'll actually get. And according to a new study, your ...
This story was originally published on May 19, 2016. A few years ago, I called my dad for one of our weekly chats — but he wasn’t happy to hear from me...
(Paid Content) Moods are fickle things. You can be going about your day in a happy, productive, and calm manner, and boom — everything changes. And ...
As much as it sucks, anxiety doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Without a little bit of it, you wouldn’t make sure to show up on time to that job interview or...
This story was originally published on May 19, 2016. I am six years old, in the first grade girls’ bathroom with my friend. We are washing our hands. ...
This story was originally published on Jul. 19, 2016. Several months ago, a woman I’m very close to checked herself into a hospital because she’d been ...
This article was originally published on May 27, 2015. Now that pot legislation is making its way across the country, it's time for a refresher on the ...
Depression is one of the most common mental-health issues in the United States, and it affects roughly twice as many women as men. Yet new research ...
On social media, it's easy to catch all sorts of digital diseases, such as FOMO, internet addiction, and anxiety. Facebook and Instagram-wary researchers...