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Parental Burnout Barometer

The Incidence of Weary + Worn Out Parents in America

“Parental burnout is a state of physical, mental, and emotional exhaustion. Parental Burnout leaves parents feeling chronically fatigued often experiencing sleep and concentration problems. At its most extreme, PBO sufferers will feel frustrated, helpless, hopeless and often resentful and believe that no matter how much they do, it will never be right and never enough; that their efforts to be effective are futile. Parents experiencing PBO can have negative thoughts about their family as well as lowered self-esteem. PBO can lead to depression, chronic anxiety, and illness.”

Neil D. Brown LCSW, Author of the Parental Burnout Recovery Guide
To learn more, please visit his website at https://neildbrown.com/.

This program explores the incidence of parental burnout in North America. With increasing numbers of single parents and homes where both parents work, healthy parenting is also uniquely challenged by social media distractions, an ever-increasing cost of education, and social or behavioral challenges. 

To better understand the increasing occurance of parental burnout in North America, the BPI Network conducted a poll of 2,000 North American parents with children under the age of 25. We explore topics such as:

  • The biggest challenges to parenting today
  • The greatest contributors to parental burnout
  • Most significant symptoms of parental burnout
  • Steps taken to resolve parental burnout

INTERVIEW WITH NEIL BROWN:

What exactly is parental burnout (PBO)?

PBO is a condition of chronic emotional, mental and physical fatigue caused by a parent’s unending attempts to meet their children or teens’ needs or manage their behavior. When parents try their best, yet always feel they’re coming up short, it inevitably leads to PBO.

Why is PBO becoming so prevalent in today’s society?

There are a number of significant factors, among them:

  • Children and teens constantly on devices. This keeps them distracted and disconnected from family life, less responsive to parents, and more influenced by media and youth culture.
  • With our pervasive digital connectivity, an expectation has evolved that parents are available for work 24/7. In many cases, employees aren’t treated as the valuable resources they are and demands of family life aren’t taken into account by employers.
  • There is a lot of information about child and adolescent development, and of course knowledge is a good thing, but it can leave parents with the idea that they need to be perfect parents and have perfect kids. This idea of perfect parenting actually undermines parental confidence and healthy parental authority.
  • There is a lack of public educational resources to fully engage youth and build healthy school climate and culture. This puts a lot of burden on parents to advocate for their kids.

What was significant about the findings of your parental survey?

The magnitude of how many parents are dealing with PBO. It’s quite staggering to realize that more parents are effected by PBO than not.

How can PBO diminish on-the-job performance among working parents?

Parents often report that they are going through the motions, but don’t think they are doing their best work. They don’t ask for what they need because they fear that they will be called out for underperformance or miss out on promotions and in fact, that’s often the case.

How can working parents prevent or recover from PBO?

  • It helps when parents realize that PBO is a common condition and it doesn’t mean they are bad parents; they can in fact take important steps forward.
  • Work with supervisors to clarify and prioritize work objectives. Reduce unnecessary meetings and emails that consume valuable time and energy.
  • Ask more of others, including children and teens. Putting the effort into teaching and establishing accountability to self-reliance skills and household contributions is good for kids and parents alike.
  • Parents need to know how to support each other. Good strategic, non-blame based communication will make things run better.
  • Not least of all, parents need something in their lives besides work, parenting and getting to the gym once in a while. Parents are people who need time to pursue personal goals such as music, art, or an activity that fuels them.
  • And of course everyone needs to have and use their preferred stress reduction skills such as physical exercise, slow deep breathing, mindfulness exercises, meditation, etc.

What should companies be doing to help or assist working parents experiencing this condition?

It’s important for companies to recognize that most of their employees are parents and to make a commitment to celebrating and supporting family life. How work gets assigned, newsletter acknowledgements, on site resources such as lunchtime speakers and parenting experts and flexible scheduling are all important. Access to parent counseling and support should be offered without the need for a stigmatizing medical diagnosis. Employees want to do a good job, so giving them the flexibility to do it when they aren’t torn between children’s needs and work demands can be a win / win. 

Neil Brown

Neil Brown Bio

Neil D. Brown LCSW is a psychotherapist, author, speaker and management consultant based in Santa Cruz, California. A graduate of the University of Denver Graduate School of Social Work, Brown became a student of Structural Family Therapy and Brief Therapy from which he evolved his own highly actionable therapeutic model for helping families transform out of unhealthy family patterns. He hosts the Healthy Family Connections Podcast and is author of Ending the Parent-Teen Control Battle.

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Facts & Stats

It is confirmed via study that moms and dads experience “parental burnout” just like working professionals can burn out on the job—around 12 percent of parents surveyed said they suffered from a “high level” of parental burnout—that is, experiencing all three criteria (exhaustion, inefficacy and detachment) more than once a week. (Source)

About half of working dads (52%) say it is very or somewhat difficult to balance work and family life, a slightly smaller share than the 60% of working mothers who say the same. And about three-in-ten working dads (29%) say they “always feel rushed,” as do 37% of working mothers. (Source)

Working fathers are about as likely as working mothers to say that they would prefer to be home with their children, but that they need to work because they need the income (48% of dads vs. 52% of moms). Working dads and moms are also equally likely to say that even though it takes them away from their families, they want to keep working (49% vs. 42%). (Source)

A recent survey of more than 2,000 parents published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology, found that close to 13% of the parents surveyed, 12.9% of mothers and 11.6% of fathers, had what the researchers called "high burnout." That meant they felt exhausted, less productive and competent and emotionally withdrawn -- qualities that are similar to professional burnout -- at least once a week. (Source)

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Articles

April 23, 2018 - Tips to Avoid Parental Burnout
Healthline
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April 23, 2018 - Parent's Long Work Hours and the Impact on Family Life
Ministry of Social Development
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September 19, 2017 - Exhausted? Inefficient? Distant? Parental Burnout is Inevitable
The Irish Times
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May 18, 2017 - Parental Burnout: How to Recognize it and what to do About it
Mother Nature Network
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May 9, 2017 - Parental Burnout: It's Really a Thing
CNN
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April 19, 2017 - Just Like Burnout at Work, It’s Possible to Burn Out on Parenting
The Cut
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March 9, 2017 - Balancing Parenting and Work Stress: A Guide
Harvard Business Review
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February 9, 2017 - Exhausted Parents: Development and Preliminary Validation of the Parental Burnout Inventory
Frontiers in Psychology
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Books

Ending the Parent-Teen Control Battle
Power struggles between parents and teens are nothing new, but chronic control battles are destructive to teen development as well as the entire family. According to psychotherapist Neil Brown, these battles occur as the result of self-perpetuating negative relationship patterns. Chock-full of powerful and easy-to-use evidence-based tools, this book will help you understand and end the painful tug-of-war with your teen and foster a peaceful and loving home environment.
Purchase from Amazon »

Parental Burnout Recovery Guide
Burnout is serious and can undermine mental health, physical health, and even your ability to function up to your own standards. No, you’re not a bad or negligent parent. In fact, the opposite is true; you’re working too hard, and you’re doing the work that belongs to others, especially your kids! And you’re probably not playing enough. No wonder you’re exhausted!
Download Guide »

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