Consequences of parental burnout: Its specific effect on child neglect and violence

Child Abuse Negl. 2018 Jun:80:134-145. doi: 10.1016/j.chiabu.2018.03.025. Epub 2018 Apr 5.


Parental burnout is a specific syndrome resulting from enduring exposure to chronic parenting stress. It encompasses three dimensions: an overwhelming exhaustion related to one's parental role, an emotional distancing from one's children and a sense of ineffectiveness in one's parental role. This study aims to facilitate further identification of the consequences of parental burnout for the parents themselves, their spouses and their child(ren). In a sample of 1551 parents, we examined the relationship between parental burnout and seven possible consequences: escapism and suicidal thoughts, addictions, sleep disorders, marital conflicts, a partner estrangement mindset, and neglect and violence towards one's child(ren). We examined (1) to what extent parental and job burnout related to each of these possible consequences and (2) whether parental burnout is specifically related to neglectful and violent behaviour towards one's child(ren). The results suggest that parental burnout has a statistically similar effect to job burnout on addictions and sleep problems, a stronger effect on couples' conflicts and partner estrangement mindset and a specific effect on child-related outcomes (neglect and violence) and escape and suicidal ideation. These results emphasize the importance of accurately diagnosing this syndrome.

Keywords: Abuse; Burn-out; Exhaustion; Maltreatment; Parent; Suicide.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aggression / psychology
  • Burnout, Psychological / psychology*
  • Child
  • Child Abuse / psychology*
  • Emotions
  • Family Conflict / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Parenting / psychology
  • Parents / psychology
  • Violence / psychology*
  • Young Adult