When the stress of parenting becomes chronic it can transform into parental burnout, an intense exhaustion that leads parents to become detached from their children, according to latest research published in Clinical Psychological Science (August). This type of burnout can have serious consequences for both parent and child, prompting parental neglect, harm, and thoughts about escape. These conclusions are based on the findings of two surveys: the first, of 2,068 French-speaking parents in Belgium, and second, of mostly English-speaking parents in the UK.
“In the current cultural context, there is a lot of pressure on parents. If they want to do the right thing too much, they could end up doing the wrong thing. 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 Moïra Mikolajczak, lead researcher and professor at UCLouvain University, Belgium.