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Great Parenting May Be Terrible For Your Health

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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.
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