It's a sign of the post-public health emergency times.

More than getting hooked on drugs, more than becoming pregnant or getting someone pregnant, and more than being the victim of gun violence, parents' biggest concern related to their kids is that they'll struggle with anxiety or depression, according to Pew Research Center data released on Tuesday.

In the Pew survey of thousands of U.S. parents, 40% said they are extremely or very concerned about anxiety or depression striking their children at some point.

Thirty-five percent said the same about their children being bullied one day.


At the bottom of the list was concern over whether or not their children would get in trouble with the law, followed by getting pregnant, getting shot, and having problems with drugs or alcohol.

The Washington, D.C.-based think tank says by significant margins, mothers are more likely than fathers to worry about most of these things.

Lower-income and Hispanic parents are generally more likely than other parents to worry about issues such as children's physical safety, teen pregnancy, and problems with drugs and alcohol. Police- and gun-related worries are more common among Black and Hispanic parents, compared to white and Asian parents.

NJ doc sees these concerns firsthand

kids anxiety high levels stressed out

Dr. Joe Galasso, a clinical psychologist with Baker Street Behavioral Health, said the Pew survey findings are reflective of what's being seen in his practice right now.

"With the pandemic, certainly we're seeing an uptick in these stress- and anxiety-related disorders," said Galasso, who's based in Paramus.

And more than ever, he said, the children are the ones who are initiating the mental health conversation with their parents, who then reach out to the office for an appointment.

Families today are taking a more proactive approach to these issues, rather than a reactive one, he said — and that is very helpful.

"If we get ahead of these things, they're treatable," Galasso said. "Kids, in particular, have the gift of resilience."

In the same Pew Research Center survey, 44% of parents said they're trying to raise their kids differently from the way they were raised, and 43% said they are trying to raise them similar to their own upbringing.

Most describe parenting as "rewarding" and "enjoyable," but substantial shares also find it tiring and stressful.

Dino Flammia is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at

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