Two studies were analyzed with the participants of the studies involved with the completion of three online surveys per year.
A total of 2,068 parents participated in the first survey, with 557 still participating by the third survey.
Parents admitted to the fantasy of simply leaving parenting and all its stressors, neglectful behaviour, and violence towards their children.
“But being a perfect parent is impossible and attempting to be one can lead to exhaustion. Our research suggests that whatever allows parents to recharge their batteries, to avoid exhaustion, is good for children,” says lead researcher Moïra Mikolajczak of UCLouvain.
“We were a bit surprised by the irony of the results,” says Mikolajczak. “If you want to do the right thing too much, you can end up doing the wrong thing. Too much pressure on parents can lead them to exhaustion which can have damaging consequences for the parent and for the children.”
What is Parental burnout?
As defined by the study, burnout is an exhaustion syndrome, characterized by feeling overwhelmed, physical and emotional exhaustion, emotional distancing from one’s children, and a sense of being an ineffective parent.
The researchers found that parental burnout and parental neglect had a circular relationship: Parental burnout led to increased parental neglect, which led to increased burnout, and so on. Parental violence appeared to be a clear consequence of burnout.
Signs of parental burnout
Screaming at Your Kids
Parenting on Auto-Pilot
Feeling Overwhelming Resentment
Withdrawing From Others
Tired all the time
How to prevent parental burnout
Take time for you! The best thing you can do for your children is self-care. And also seek help if it all gets too much.
“Parents need to know that self-care is good for the child and that when they feel severely exhausted, they should seek help.
Health and child services professionals need to be informed about parental burnout so that they can accurately diagnose it and provide parents with the most appropriate care. And those engaged in policy and public health need to help raise awareness and lift the taboo on parental burnout, which will encourage parents to seek the help they need,” Mikolajczak added.