One of the risks that can directly affect mothers or fathers with small children or adolescents is parental burnout.
It is a very intense exhaustion, caused by a strong stress related to everyday life. Because of this, some parents may be inclined to feel a kind of detachment from their children and to feel insecure about their parenting skills. Never as in this period then comes the parental burnout covid.
In order to clarify and prevent this often underestimated psychological phenomenon, we interviewed the doctor Rosa Maria Quatraro, psychologist psychotherapist and specialist in clinical psychology. Dr. Quatraro carries out clinical, research and training activities in the field of perinatal psychology and psychopathology and is Secretary of the Marcé Del Paesena Society for Perinatal Mental Health, member of the International Marcé Society and Clinical Manager of Maternity in difficulty.
In this article
- What exactly is parental burnout?
- Are there any signs to be recognized in time?
- What are the risky situations for moms and dads?
- Tips to avoid having parental burnout
What exactly is parental burnout?
«Managing your children is a very demanding task both from a practical and an emotional point of view and can at certain times or in certain situations become stressful. From birth, parents have to deal with a variety of daily and chronic stressful situations and events (sleepless nights, tantrums, homework and school with its problems, continuous afternoon trips, possible illnesses, etc.). The constant lack of internal (emotional) and external (context-related) resources necessary for child management can lead the parent to develop parental burnout.
Parental burnout indicates a stressful condition that is configured with manifestations on three dimensions: emotional exhaustion with inability to connect emotionally to oneself and to one's child, emotional distancing with a detached and disinterested attitude towards one's child and in interacting with him and finally a lack of confidence in one's ability to be good parents which confers a sense of ineffectiveness.
Who suffers from it he feels the feeling that the needs and demands of being a parent far outweigh the resources available to him. It is important to point out that these feelings and emotional states are in contrast to the feelings the parent experienced before experiencing parental burnout. There is no doubt that parental burnout is dangerous, so much so that it has been associated with several harmful outcomes, such as neglect, physical and emotional abuse, in extreme cases abandonment. However, there are also the invisible consequences of parental burnout: the lack of parent-child tuning, and the establishment of insecure attachment styles ", explains Dr. Quatraro.Read also: Work and children: increasingly stressed mothers
Parental burnout covid: what it is
While there is good news between vaccines and an end to the lockdown, we still have a long way to go before normal life resumes. And for many, life under a pandemic has already cost a lot. Psychologists report an increase in "pandemic fatigue" and parental burnout as many people find the current stage of restraints more difficult, with more people feeling exhausted, stressed and unable to cope with all of this in the family.
Are there any signs to be recognized in time?
"Of course parents need to start worrying When:
- already in the morning they feel tired,
- they feel that the practical and emotional tasks of being parents require them to be involved that goes beyond the energies they feel they have at their disposal,
- at times they feel empty, resigned and passive with the feeling of not being able to do anything about it.
At this point the emotional distancing e:
- the exhausted parent becomes less and less involved in the relationship with his child, detaches himself from it and does the bare minimum,
- the interactions are limited to the functional / instrumental aspects to the detriment of the emotional aspects.
In these conditions, if no action is taken, the parent comes to feel exasperated, he avoids being with his children as much as possible, because he can no longer handle the situation, the demands of a parenting that feels too demanding for his own resources. Parents usually feel an intense sense of guilt and shame for these feelings and because their feelings move away from the idea of parents that they had and that they wanted to be for their children ".Read also: Family life, the anti-stress decalogue
What are the risky situations for moms and dads?
«There are external stressful situations that often add up, such as the lack of sleep that can characterize the first years of a child's life, or the difficulties in managing several children with different needs, or the management of tantrums or conflicts between children.
Still very important are factors such as having to reconcile too tight and stressful rhythms between work and family, being a single parent, the feeling of having to take care of both the concrete aspects of family life and the emotional aspects on their own. Furthermore, the gender gap in family care can be a trigger.
Then there are the "internal" aspects, such as being particularly sensitive to feeling guilty, being ashamed when we feel like we are not up to a task we set ourselves, being perfectionists, asking ourselves much more than we can handle , always wanting to be "on the spot". These are characteristics that are present and that afflict the man of today and that do not go very well with being parents and having to manage a family, work and social demands ».Read also: Stress in the family: here's how to fight it
Tips for relieving family stress and avoiding parental burnout
- "Theawareness of how we are is the first step: It is important to realize when you are under too much stress. Awareness should help stop before the situation gets worse.
- It is important to recharge the batteries. We cannot give our children what we do not have.
- Remember that you don't need to be super parents. Expecting too much of yourself does not help, so ban on perfectionism. The important thing is to be "good enough" parents.
- Let's get help from grandparents, or from the social network that surrounds us to be able to conserve energy for the things that really matter and help build family ties.
- Remember that there are two parents, share burdens and honors, team up. Helping each other will make you feel less alone.
- Talk about the situation as a couple, look for practical solutions before the stressful condition becomes too accentuated.
- Talk about how you feel with people you trust, do not be ashamed of it.
- If you feel that you are unable to get out of it, rather that the situation worsens over time, ask for help from an experienced parenting psychotherapist, because the consequences can be important both for the relationship with your children and in terms of your emotional health ».
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