Parenting is one hard job to undertake. Taking care of your kids, making sure they're not fighting and causing any trouble at home or elsewhere in public is hard in and of itself. But when you have to add your responsibilities at work and attending to your relationship with your partner, it feels like you'll never have a moment of time for yourself ever again. You can't ever go to the bathroom in your own home without having a child bursting in just to get your attention!
But the constant stress that comes with parenting can, and often does, cause burnout. That kind of burnout doesn't only negatively impact parents; it can also affect their children in the same aspect. That's according to a new study released earlier this week. In this study, it outlined parental burnout when a parent feels totally detached from their children and are also heavily doubting their capabilities as a parent.
Three separate studies were carried out to look at parental well-being and their exhaustion caused by their parenting duties. The parents who participated were recruited through pediatricians, school, social media and other sources. A majority of the participants were from Belgium and spoke French, although all participants were asked to three groups of surveys over the course of about five and a half months. The first group of participants consisted of 2068 people, whereas the third study had decreased to 557 by that point.
All of the surveys contained a 22-item measure about parental burnout in order to gauge the parents' emotional distancing, emotional exhaustion, and any feelings of inefficacy. There was also a 17-item measure to see how much the participants neglect their child's educational, emotional and physical needs; a 15-item measure for the participant's tendency to engage in physical, psychological and/or verbal violence; and a six-item measure about the participants' thoughts on escaping their family life. Due to there being lot of sensitive questions on the matter, researchers also took notes about all the participants' tendency to choose answers that are considered to be the most socially desirable.
The data from these surveys showed a strong correlation between parental burnout and three separate variables- escape ideation, parental neglect, and parental violence. For the first two surveys, parental burnout was associated with the aforementioned variables later on in life. Researchers also noticed that parental burnout and parental neglect combined can lead to a vicious cycle of one causing the other to happen, and so on and so forth. Meanwhile, parental violence was found to be caused directly by parental burnout. Interestingly, all the patterns just mentioned popped up even if when researchers took into account the fact that some participants only selected socially acceptable answers for the surveys.
While all of these points are certainly interesting and worth nothing, it has been stressed that more research must be carried out to both confirm and extend these findings. That being said, a lot has been discovered from carrying out these studies. This was summed up best by the lead researcher of the study, Moïra Mikolajczak.
"Parents need to know that self-care is good for the child and that when they feel severely exhausted, they should seek help," Mikolajczak said. "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."