Parenting can be a significant source of stress and exhaustion, which, when taken lightly, can lead to Burnout.
Parental Burnout, a condition characterised by emotional exhaustion, detachment from one’s children, and a reduced sense of personal accomplishment, is a real and significant problem for many parents that, unfortunately, we don’t hear much about. Several myths surrounding Parental Burnout need to be debunked to better understand and address this silent epidemic. This blog post will address the five most common myths around parental Burnout.
#Myth 1: Parents from disadvantaged backgrounds are more at risk of Parental Burnout
One of the most pervasive myths about parental Burnout is that parents from disadvantaged backgrounds are more prone to experiencing it.
Research done by world-leading researchers in parental Burnout (Roskam et al., 2017 and Mikolajczak et al., 2017) shows that parental Burnout is not limited to a specific socioeconomic group or demographic. Instead, the stressors associated with parenting, such as financial pressures, lack of social support, and isolation, can affect parents from all walks of life.
While parents from disadvantaged backgrounds may face additional stressors such as financial difficulties, lack of social support and resources, systemic inequalities and discrimination, Burnout can affect parents of any socioeconomic status.
The causes of Parental Burnout are complex and multifactorial and may include high expectations of oneself, lack of self-care, poor coping mechanisms, and external stressors.
#Myth 2: Parental Burnout is only a woman’s thing
Another common myth about Parental Burnout is that it only affects mothers. While mothers are often the primary caregivers in many families, fathers and other caregivers are also at risk of experiencing Burnout.
Societal expectations and gender norms can play a role in exacerbating Burnout among mothers, as they may feel pressure to fulfil multiple roles simultaneously, such as being a caregiver, homemaker, and breadwinner.
The same research by Roskam et al., 2017 and Mikolajczak et al., 2017 clearly indicates that fathers who take an active role in parenting and household duties are more likely to experience Burnout than those who do not. However, they are less likely to report their symptoms due to stigma and stereotypes surrounding masculinity and parenting.
#Myth 3: Parental Burnout only affects parents of young children
While the causes of Parental Burnout may differ depending on your child’s age, the symptoms and consequences can be equally severe.
Parents of young children may experience Burnout due to the demands of caring for young children, and parents of teenagers may experience Burnout due to the challenges of managing teenage behaviours.
Parents of teenagers may experience additional stressors, such as navigating their child’s social life, academic pressures, and mental health concerns.
So, no matter what stages of parenting you’re at, it’s crucial to recognise the signs of Burnout and take proactive steps to manage the stress and seek support.
#Myth 4: Parental Burnout concerns parents of hard-to-manage children only
Difficult children do not necessarily cause Parental Burnout. Even parents of well-behaved children can experience Burnout due to the constant demands of parenting. Parental Burnout is not a reflection of parenting skills, and seeking help is a sign of strength, not weakness.
Parents who strive for perfection and set unrealistic expectations for themselves and their children may be at greater risk of Burnout.
Parental Burnout can affect anyone who feels overwhelmed by the demands of parenting, regardless of their child’s behaviour and age.
#Myth 5: Self-care can fix Parental Burnout.
While self-care habits are essential to managing stress and bolstering our well-being, it’s not enough to get us out of Burnout.
Parents feeling stressed, overwhelmed, and experiencing prolonged exhaustion need to take proactive steps to address the root causes of the symptoms. This might involve seeking therapy, changing work schedules, finding additional childcare support, building a support network, and practising self-compassion.
When constantly overwhelmed, checked out, or burned out, it can have potentially severe consequences for our children and our relationship with our partner and everyone around us. We were designed to respond to stress but not to remain stuck in survival overdrive.
If you don’t feel like yourself, reaching out for support is vital. Talk to a trusted friend or family member, seek counselling, or therapy, work with a life coach specialised in Burnout, or consider joining a support group for parents. Remember, you’re not alone, and there is help available.
As a Certified Parental Burnout Practitioner, I can support you through coaching sessions using strategies and tools to assist you in reducing the stressors and increasing your support. Sometimes, all you need is someone to guide you, be your anchor during the rough season and remind you that you have all it takes to get out of the Burnout zone and reclaim your life.