Exhausted Parents: Sociodemographic, Child-Related, Parent-Related, Parenting and Family-Functioning Correlates of Parental Burnout

Abstract

Parental burnout is a specific syndrome resulting from enduring exposure to chronic parenting stress. It encompasses three dimensions: an overwhelming exhaustion related to one’s parental role, an emotional distancing with one’s children and a sense of ineffectiveness in one’s parental role. This study aims to facilitate further identification of antecedents/risk factors for parental burnout in order to inform prevention and intervention practices. In a sample of 1723 french-speaking parents, we examined the relationship between parental burnout and 38 factors belonging to five categories: sociodemographics, particularities of the child, stable traits of the parent, parenting and family-functioning. In 862 parents, we first examined how far these theoretically relevant risk factors correlate with burnout. We then examined their relative weight in predicting burnout and the amount of total explained variance. We kept only the significant factors to draw a preliminary model of risk factors for burnout and tested this model on another sample of 861 parents. The results suggested that parental burnout is a multi-determined syndrome mainly predicted by three sets of factors: parent’s stable traits, parenting and family-functioning.

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Acknowledgements

This study was funded by an FSR Research Grant from the Université catholique de Louvain. We warmly thank the following persons for their help in the data collection: France Gérard from the Mutualité Chrétienne, as well as our students Cléa Chaudet, Céline Derwael, Bérénice Grumiaux, Flore Mehauden and Virginie Piraux. We also thank Gillian Rosner for proofreading the manuscript.

Author Contributions

M.M., I.R., M.E.R., and H.A. designed the study. M.E.R. and H.A. recruited participants. I.R. performed the data analyses and wrote the Methods and Results section. M.M. wrote the Introduction and Discussion sections. All authors proofread and edited the final manuscript.

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Correspondence to Moïra Mikolajczak.

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All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

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was obtained from all individual participants included in the study. The Ethics Committee of the Institut de Recherches en Sciences Psychologiques (IPSY) of the Université catholique de Louvain provided IRB approval for this study (Protocol Number 15-43).

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This study was funded by a FSR-2016 Grant from the Université catholique de Louvain.

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Mikolajczak, M., Raes, M., Avalosse, H. et al. Exhausted Parents: Sociodemographic, Child-Related, Parent-Related, Parenting and Family-Functioning Correlates of Parental Burnout. J Child Fam Stud 27, 602–614 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10826-017-0892-4

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Keywords

  • Parent
  • Burn-out
  • Exhaustion
  • Antecedents
  • Causes