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Facts You Should Know About Parental Burnout

Team StoryWeavers|June 21, 2022, 17:53 IST|

“You cannot pour from an empty cup.”

Parental self-care is one of the core principles of positive parenting and there is a solid reason behind that. Parenting is mentally and physically exhausting and most parents will agree that it can put any full-time job to shame. 

Parents experience a range of emotions every day from affection and pride to stress and disappointment. Parents also deal with different ‘stressors’ or things that cause stress, on a daily basis — from daily hassles such as homework to acute ones such as behavioural and health problems of children. A paper published in the Clinical Psychological Science states that when parents chronically lack the resources to handle these stressors, they are at risk of parental burnout. 

In this article, we will cover:

What is Parental Burnout?

Parental burnout is more than just stress. Research suggests that it is a state of intense exhaustion related to one’s parental role, in which one becomes emotionally detached from one’s children and doubtful of one’s capacity to be a good parent. 

Here are a few conditions researchers have found that put some parents at a greater risk of parental burnout:

  • Parents who work part-time or are stay-at-home parents
  • Parents who aim to be perfect parents
  • Parents who lack emotional or stress management abilities
  • Parents who do not get adequate support from the co-parent
  • Parents who have special needs children
  • Parents who employ poor child-rearing practices

Parental burnout has dire consequences such as child neglect, escape ideation, i.e. wanting to run away, and parental violence. Hence, it is crucial that parents get the support they deserve in combating burnout. 

Tips For Dealing With Parental Burnout

The book Attached at the Heart: Eight Proven Parenting Principles for Raising Connected and Compassionate Children by Barbara Nicholson and Lysa Parker suggests a few ways of regaining balance and combating burnout. 

  • Remind yourself that above all, children need healthy, balanced parents. Taking time off for yourself to regain balance does not make you a bad parent. 
  • Remember that you can take time off for restoring your emotional reservoir while being sensitive to your child’s needs and requirements. You cannot give what you do not have. 
  • Develop friendships with other parents or join a support group. Listening to other parents experiences and tips will help you feel more in control of your life. 
  • Focus on the important things and let the unnecessary things go. Indulge in quick meditation sessions to let go of unwanted thoughts. 
  • Focus on the positive aspects of your life. Write a gratitude journal or schedule a family gratitude time at the dinner table. 
  • If needed, do seek professional support in the form of counselling or therapy. 

Parental burnout is a serious concern. More often than not, parents are expected to be selfless superheroes who do not need any help. Parents need to remember that exhaustion is not a status symbol or a hallmark of good parenting. Parents must remind themselves and their co-parents that self-care is good for them, their children and their family life. 

What are some other things that parents go through but never speak of? Do let us know in the comments below, and we will try our best to address them. 

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About the Author

“Me-kha-la!” That happens at least once when she introduces herself to new people. She wholeheartedly believes in the quote by Arthur Rubinstein that says – “if you love life, life will love you back”. She is an organizational psychologist and psychometrician. She was a class teacher of 36 adorable girls for two years, grades 2 & 3, as a part of the Teach For India Fellowship. These little girls have a special place in her heart, and when she writes for children, she writes for them!

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