111: Parental Burn Out

Do you often feel anxious or irritated, especially when you’re around your child? Do you often feel like you might snap, perhaps even threatening violence if they don’t do what you say? Are you so disconnected from them that you sometimes consider walking out and never coming back?

If you have, it’s possible that you’re suffering from parental burnout. Listener Kelly reached out to me recently because she has been diagnosed with parental burnout and wanted to know what research is available on this topic, and on how to protect her two-year-old from its impacts. We did some searching around in the literature and it actually didn’t take long to turn up the preeminent researchers in the field who actually work as a team and one of whom – Dr. Moira Mikolajczak, kindly agreed to talk with us.

We learned about the warning signs to watch out for that indicate that you might be suffering from parental burnout, and what to do about it if you are. We ran a bit over time at the end of the episode and I wasn’t able to ask about whether self-compassion might be a useful tool for coping with parental burnout but Dr. Mikolajczak and I emailed afterward and she agreed that it is – I’m hoping to do an episode on self-compassion in the future.


More information on Dr. Mikolajczak’s work on parental burnout can be found at https://www.burnoutparental.com/

The Parental Burnout Assessment, available in French and English, can be found here: https://en.burnoutparental.com/suis-je-en-burnout

If you need tools to help you in the short term, I’m running the Taming Your Triggers workshop starting Monday March 6. In the workshop you’ll learn the true sources of your triggers (hint: it’s not your child’s behavior!), how to feel triggered less often, and what to do when you do feel triggered, and how to repair your relationship with your child on the fewer occasions when it does still happen. Click here to learn more about and join the Taming Your Triggers workshop.





Brianda, M.E., Roskam, I., Gross, J.J., Franssen, A., Kapala, F., Gerard, F., & Mikolajczak, M. (2019). Treating parental burnout: Impact of two treatment modalities on burnout symptoms, emotions, hair cortisol, and parental neglect and violence. Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics. Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Moira_Mikolajczak/publication/339852433_Treating_Parental_Burnout_Impact_of_Two_Treatment_Modalities_on_Burnout_Symptoms_Emotions_Hair_Cortisol_and_Parental_Neglect_and_Violence/links/5e6e1dcc92851c6ba7048086/Treating-Parental-Burnout-Impact-of-Two-Treatment-Modalities-on-Burnout-Symptoms-Emotions-Hair-Cortisol-and-Parental-Neglect-and-Violence.pdf

Cesar, F., Costa, P., Oliveira, A., & Fontaine, A.M. (2018). “To suffer in paradise”: Feelings mothers share on Portuguese Facebook sites. Frontiers in Psychology 9, 1797.

Hubert, S., & Aujoulat, I. (2018). Parental burnout: When exhausted mothers open up. Frontiers in Psychology 9, 1021.

James, M.E.B.I.R., Kapala, J., Gerard, A.F.F., & Mikolajczak, M. (2020).  Treating parental burnout: Impact of two treatment modalities on burnout symptoms, emotions, hair cortisol, and parental neglect and violence. Balance 28 (70.31), 0-91.

Lebert-Charron, A., Dorard, G., Boujut, E., & Wendland, J. (2018). Maternal burnout syndrome: Contextual and psychological associated factors. Frontiers in Psychology 9, 885.

Le Vigoroux, S., Scola, C., Raes, M-E., Mikolajczak, M., & Roskam, I. (2017). The big five personality traits and parental burnout: Protective and risk factors. Personality and Individual Differences 119, 216-219.

Le Vigoroux, S., & Scola, C. (2018). Differences in parental burnout: Influences of demographic factors and personality of parents and children. Frontiers in Psychology 9, 887.

Meeussen, L., & Van Lar, Colette (2018). Feeling pressure to be a perfect mother relates to parental burnout and career ambitions. Frontiers in Psychology 9, 2113.

Mikolajczak, M., Raes, M-E., Avalosse, H., & Roskam, I. (2018). Exhausted parents: Sociodemographic, child-related, parent-related, parenting and family-functioning correlates of parental burnout. Journal of Child and Family Studies 27, 602-614.

Mikolajczak, M., & Roskam, I. (2018). A theoretical and clinical framework for parental burnout: The balance between risks and resources (BR2). Frontiers in Psychology 9, 886.

Mikolajczak, M., Brianda, M.E., Avalosse, H., & Roskam, I. (2018). Consequences of parental burnout: Its specific effect on child neglect and violence. Child Abuse and Neglect 80, 134-145.

Mikolajczak, M., Gross, J.J., Stinglhamber, F., Norberg, A.L., & Roskam, I. (2020). Is parental burnout distinct from job burnout and depressive symptomatology?  Forthcoming in Clinical Psychological Science. Retrieved from https://dial.uclouvain.be/pr/boreal/object/boreal%3A224963/datastream/PDF_01/view

Mikolajczak, M., Gross, J.J., & Roskam, I. (2019). Parental burnout: Wat is it, and why does it matter? Clinical Psychological Science 7(6), 1319-1329.

Roskam, I., & Mikolajczak, M. (2020). Gender differences in nature, antecedents, and consequences of parental burnout. Sex Roles 1-14.

Sanchez-Rodriguez, R., Perier, S., Callahan, S., & Sejourne, N. (2019). Revue de la literature relative au burnout parental. Canadian Psychological Association. Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Sanchez_Rodriguez/publication/331516306_Revue_de_la_litterature_relative_au_burnout_parental_Correction_to_Sanchez-Rodriguez_et_al_2019/links/5de692b2a6fdcc2837033f54/Revue-de-la-litterature-relative-au-burnout-parental-Correction-to-Sanchez-Rodriguez-et-al-2019.pdf

Sorkkila, M., & Aunola, K. (2019). Risk factors for parental burnout among Finnish parents: the role of socially prescribed perfectionism. Journal of Child and Family Studies 29(3), 648-659.

White, C.C. (2017, February 5). Putting resilience and resilience surveys under the microscope. Aces Too High News. Retrieved from: https://acestoohigh.com/2017/02/05/__trashed-4/

About the author, Jen

Jen Lumanlan (M.S., M.Ed.) hosts the Your Parenting Mojo podcast (www.YourParentingMojo.com), which examines scientific research related to child development through the lens of respectful parenting.

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