Resolving Parent Burnout

I have reached screaming point,” Julie said. “I have three small children that are driving me crazy. I get so frustrated and angry that I’m scared I might hurt one of them. I need help.”

“I’m tired most of the time,” said Ron, the father of twins. “When Karen had to go back to work to help with family finances, I had to accept more of the work around the home. By the time we both get home from a busy day at work, take care of the children and household chores, we’re both so weary we collapse into bed. We wake up tired the next morning, and it’s the same thing all over again. We have no time for each other, and our marriage is suffering.

Julie, Ron and Karen were all experiencing parent burnout, which is not uncommon in today’s pressure-cooker society.

Exhaustion, frustration, and anger are typical symptoms. Others include a feeling of working harder for the family but enjoying it less—of feeling overworked and underappreciated—resulting in apathy, resentment, and increased arguments between yourself and your spouse, or becoming physically ill. “In the more advanced cases of burnout,” writes Debra Bruce, “the weary, confused adult simply quits caring—leaving the child basically to rear himself.”

When parents experience prolonged burnout, the children also suffer. Some will become irritable, restless, touchy, and argumentative. Others will internalize their frustration, thereby setting themselves up for later problems.

Single parents are particularly susceptible to burnout, but so are married parents. Small children need constant attention. They are a twenty-four-hour-a-day, seven-days-a-week responsibility. Years ago, in the days of the more extended family, there was more help from other family members, but in our day of the nuclear family, there is often little or no help from outside family members.

Exhaustion, frustration, and
          anger are typical symptoms.

If you are a parent, here are some suggestions to help you resolve, or better still, prevent, burnout.

Continued on Page Two

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