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530homespun_hiresRISMEDIA, May 30, 2009-Families today are feeling increased stress and anxiety due to the economy, however, four-in-five (81%) parents who report feeling increased stress also say that the weakened economy has made their family closer. At the center of family closeness is touch: nearly half (45%) of parents say the number one thing that contributes to their family’s sense of closeness is showing physical affection.

According to The “Lever 2000® Making Every Touch Count Study: A National Report on the Power of Touch,” a majority of parents agree about the importance of giving kids hugs and kisses. In fact, parents report hugging and kissing their kids, on average, six times a day. That’s because parents believe there are many emotional and physical benefits of touch to the family, including: strengthening family bonds (83%); providing comfort (77%) and reassurance (75%); and helping them reduce stress (57%), according to parents surveyed.

The study also found:

Family closeness is on the rise

-More than four in five (81%) parents say they show more physical affection to their own children than their parents did with them.
-More than 65% admit to often sneaking their slumbering kids a goodnight kiss, even at the risk of waking them.
-Sixty-three percent believe giving their kids lots of hugs increases their confidence.

But the economy has taken its toll on families. Seventy-four percent say the economy has increased the level of stress and anxiety in their family and parental stress often trickles down to the kids.

Children with parents who have felt increased financial anxiety over the past 12 months are four times more likely to feel concern, anxiety or nervousness about their family’s finances (41% versus 9%).

Among all parents nationwide- even those not feeling economic stress- 33% say their children have expressed concern, anxiety or nervousness about the economy.

Hugs squeeze out stress – How do parents help their kids feel secure?

Nearly half (49%) say they are showing their kids more frequent physical affection (such as hugs). The data show a clear trend that the more hugs kids get, the less likely they are to have concerns, anxiety or nervousness about their family finances.

Among kids getting four or more hugs per day, 28% of them are unconcerned about the family finances, compared with 40% of kids who never get hugged.

The upside of a down economy on families

Parents who say their family is closer now because of the economy, report spending more time at home as a family (64%) and say they have learned to enjoy the simple things in life (63%).

Sixty-one percent say they’ve come to realize that family is more important than money; nearly two in five parents (39%) say economic uncertainty has made them talk more frequently about their feelings.

Shockingly, more than a quarter (28%) of parents who report being stressed about the economy say having more frequent moments of physical closeness with family would reduce their stress even more than having more money.