Health and Development in the Context of Family Relationships/Family Stress

A wide variety of family stressors can influence health and development. Risky families are physically, sexually, or verbally abusive; relationships among the members are characterized by frequent conflict or anger, or they can be cold, unsupportive, or neglectful. Even exposure to hostility, anger, and conflict between other members of the family can be stressful. In addition, elements of chaotic households include a lack of stability, routines, and predictability, as well as crowded conditions and high levels of noise. This entry describes the negative health effects of stressful family conditions on the individual and then examines the life-span impact of such conditions from infancy through adulthood.

Negative Effects

Stressful family conditions cause wear and tear on the body’s physiological stress response systems. An individual’s response to stress begins ...

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