Skip to main content

What Is Parental Burnout?

What is parental burnout and what can you do about it?
Parental burnout
Updated: May 16, 2024
Table of contents

Parental burnout is not the ‘typical’ parenting stress. Feeling stress is ‘normal’, common and even necessary. 

Parental burnout is something else. It happens when parenting stress impedes parents to cope. When parents lack the resources needed to handle their parenting demands, they may develop parental burnout.

It is characterized by three main features: 

  • Intense exhaustion: physical, emotional, or both.
  • Feeling emotionally distant from one’s child.
  • Feeling doubtful of one’ capacity to be a good parent 

Parents feel exhausted just by thinking about their role as parents. As a result, parents gradually detach from their children. They become less and less involved and in the end their interactions are limited to logistics and functional. Consequently, parents begin to feel that they are not good parents, and their relationship with their children is damaged. 

We can all experience these symptoms at some time. But when a parent is burnout, they experience them frequently and strongly. 

What’s the difference between parental burnout and depression?

Parental burnout and depression can look quite similar, but they are different. 

Parental burnout is specific to the parenting domain. You feel exhausted when being with your kids. You don’t enjoy being with the kids. You find tough dealing with everything to do with the kids. In contrast, you are totally fine at work, you enjoy spending time with your friends, and you enjoy any hobbies you may have. 

Depression is more global. It’s all encompassing. You feel low. You feel tired. You feel uninterested across all aspects of your life.  

How many parents experience parental burnout?

Parental burnout

The research on parental burnout is quite new. 

Studies in 42 countries show that around 5% of parents experience parental burnout. In the Western world, this figure goes up to 8%. This is about 1 parent in every classroom.

Parental burnout is more common in Europe and the US. This is probably because these countries are very individualistic and because parenting has become increasingly demanding over the last 50 years. 

Parents of neurodivergent children are more likely to experience parental burnout. 

Both mothers and fathers can experience parental burnout. 

Who is more likely to experience parental burnout?

These are the parents who are more at risk:

  • Those who aim to be perfect parents.
  • Those who have difficulties regulating their emotions and their stress.
  • Don’t have emotional or practical support from their coparent or who don’t have a tribe.
  • Those who don’t have much knowledge about how to raise their kids.
  • Those who have children with special needs.
  • Those who work part-time or are stay-at-home parents

Why does parental burnout matter? 

Parental burnout has been linked with: 

  • Depression, addiction, and sleep problems.
  • Thoughts of running away and committing suicide.
  • Child neglect and child maltreatment.
  • High levels of job turnover intention, and a decrease in job satisfaction.
  • Conflict within the couple.
  • A reduction of the quality of life and life satisfaction of the family members. 

I think I am experiencing parental burnout. What do I do?

If you are struggling, and you suspect that you may be experiencing parental burnout, I highly recommend that you see a specialist. Our REC Parenting therapists are here to support you. You just need to get in touch with me here and we will organize the support your need.  Remember that taking care of yourself is taking care of your family.

Much love,


Dr. Ana Aznar

About Ana

Dr. Ana Aznar is the founder of REC Parenting. She is a psychologist with a passion to support… Read more

Join the Family

Your partner in parenting from baby name inspiration to college planning.