The International Investigation of Parental Burnout (IIPB)

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 dimension is a sense of ineffectiveness in the parental role: parents feel that they cannot handle problems calmly and/or effectively. As shown recently by Roskam, Raes, and Mikolajczak (2017), parental burnout is a unique syndrome, empirically distinct from job burnout, parental stress or 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), that it concerns both mothers and fathers (Lindström, et al., 2011; Roskam, et al., 2017), that its prevalence (between 8% and 36% depending on the types of parents studied; Lindström, et al., 2011; Roskam, et al., 2017) warrants further investigation, that it is related to sociodemographic, situational, personal, parental, and marital factors (Le Vigouroux, Scola, Raes, Mikolajczak, & Roskam, in press; Mikolajczak, Raes, & Roskam, in press; Roskam & Mikolajczak, under review), and that it has specific consequences in terms of child-related outcomes, i.e. neglect and violence, and in terms of escapist and suicidal thoughts (Mikolajczak, Brianda, Avalosse, & Roskam, under review). However, to date, parental burnout has mainly been studied in European countries, in particular in Belgium and Sweden.


Objective of the IIPB

The purpose of the International Investigation of Parental Burnout (IIPB) is to test the conceptual validity, prevalence and intercultural variation of parental burnout in different cultures around the world. To do this, an international consortium has been initiated by Professors Isabelle Roskam and Moïra Mikolajczak in collaboration with Maday Valdes Pacheco. The members of the consortium will use a common protocol including rating of sociodemographic factors, parental burnout, gender roles, independent-interdependent self, parental ideal, involvement in parental function and duties, and parental goals and values.

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Video clip by Laura Gallée
IIPB logo by Théo