While extensive research has been conducted into job burnout (more than 23,000 studies to date), parental burnout has only very recently become the focus of scientific interest (see Pelsma, 1989for the only exception before 2007), with empirical evidence that parenting stress can lead to parental burnout (Glasberg, Norberg, & Soderberg, 2007; Lindstrom, Aman, & Norberg, 2010; Lindström, Aman, & Norberg, 2011; Norberg, Mellgren, Winiarski, & Forinder, 2014). Like job burnout, parental burnout encompasses
three dimensions. The first is overwhelming exhaustion related to one’s parental role: parents feel that being a parent requires too much involvement; they feel tired when getting up in the morning and having to face another day with their children; they feel emotionally drained by the parental role to the extent that thinking about their role as parents makes them feel they have reached the end of their tether. The second dimension is an emotional distancing from their children: exhausted parents become less and less involved in the upbringing of and relationship with their children; they do the bare minimum for their children but no more; interactions are limited to functional/instrumental aspects at the expense of emotional aspects. The third symptom is a loss of accomplishment in one’s parental role: parents feel fed up with parenting, they cannot stand their role as father/mother anymore, and they no longer enjoy being with their children. Importantly, all these symptoms and states contrast with both how the parent felt before about parenting.
As shown by Mikolajczak, Gross, Stinglhamber, Lindahl Norberg, & Roskam (2020), parental burnout is a unique syndrome, empirically distinct from job burnout, and depression. Research on parental burnout is still in its infancy, but studies to date have shown that it can be reliably measured (Roskam, et al., 2017, 2018), that it concerns both mothers and fathers (Lindström, et al., 2011; Roskam & Mikolajczak, 2020), that its prevalence (between 8% and 36% depending on the types of parents studied; Lindström, et al., 2011; Roskam, et al., 2017, 2018) warrants further investigation, that it is related to sociodemographic, situational, personal, parental, and marital factors (Lebert, Dorard, Boujut, & Wendland, 2018; Le Vigouroux, Scola, Raes, Mikolajczak, & Roskam, 2017; Mikolajczak, Raes, & Roskam, 2018; Mikolajczak & Roskam, 2018), and that it has specific consequences in terms of child-related outcomes, i.e. neglect and violence, and in terms of escape and suicide ideations (Mikolajczak, Gross, & Roskam, 2019; Mikolajczak, Brianda, Avalosse, & Roskam, 2018). However, parental burnout has mainly been studied in European countries, in particular in Belgium and Sweden, at least not until the International Investigation of Parental Burnout (IIPB) came along.