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Aiming to be perfect parents increases the risk of parental burnout, but emotional competence mitigates it


Parenting perfectionism, especially the dimension of perfectionistic concerns—preoccupation with self-criticism including concern over mistakes and doubts about own behaviors—, has been shown to be a weighty factor for parental burnout. Drawing on the Balance between Risks and Resources (BR2) theory of parental burnout, this paper examines whether emotional competence could moderate/buffer the effect of parenting perfectionism on parental burnout. We investigated this question in two independent samples of parents collected in Belgium (N = 347) and Poland (N = 377). The results of both studies show that emotional competence cancels out the detrimental effect of perfectionistic concerns on parental burnout. Beyond its contribution to parenting perfectionism and emotional competence literatures, the present article also provides further evidence of the potential of the BR2 theory of parental burnout.

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Fig. 1

Data Availability

Neither of the experiments reported in this article was formally preregistered. However, the database of study variables and the supplementary material have been made available on a permanent third-party archive, Open Science Framework:

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M.M., I.R., and G.-X.L. were supported by a Coordinated Research Grant from the French Community of Belgium (ARC Grant n°19/24–100). This fund did not exert any influence or censorship of any kind on the present work.

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Authors and Affiliations



Moïra Mikolajczak (M.M.), Logan Hansotte (L.H.), and Dorota Szczygieł (D.S.) developed the study concept and the study design from which the current data were drawn. L.H. and D.S. collected the data. Gao-Xian Lin (G.-X.L.) suggested using the data to investigate the interactive effect of perfectionism and emotional competence on parental burnout. G.-X.L. performed the data analyses and interpretation. G.-X.L. and M.M. drafted the manuscript. D.S. and Isabelle Roskam (I.R.) provided revisions. All authors approved the final version of the manuscript for submission.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Gao-Xian Lin.

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Protections of Research Participants

The study was carried out in accordance with the provisions of the World Medical Association Declaration of Helsinki.

Conflicts of Interest/Competing Interests

M.M. and I.R. founded the Training Institute for Parental Burnout (TIPB) which delivers training on PB to professionals. The TIPB did not participate in the funding of this study nor did it influence the process or the results in any manner.

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Dorota Szczygiel and Logan Hansotte share co-first authorship with Gao-Xian Lin.

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Appendix 1

Appendix 1

Table 3 The brief parenting perfectionism scale

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Lin, GX., Szczygieł, D., Hansotte, L. et al. Aiming to be perfect parents increases the risk of parental burnout, but emotional competence mitigates it. Curr Psychol (2021).

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  • Parent
  • Stress
  • Expectation
  • Parenting perfectionism
  • Emotional intelligence