Parental Burnout: A tribute to single parent mothers and fathers who get burned out!
By Ken Barrett, MSW, LCSW
The typical parent is likely to get “burn out” which is not to be mistaken with compassion fatigue. Burnout as a parent causes exhaustion, feeling overwhelmed, emotional distancing from one’s children and a sense of being an ineffective parent. (Psychology Today, Posted September 2019)
Let’s take for example, single mothers who are statistically by far the largest demographic of single parents. We are in a Pandemic and the amount of time at home has significantly increased putting an immense amount of pressure on single parents who are mothers in overwhelming numbers. I would be remiss in not mentioning men also are single parents and will be considered in this discussion not as an afterthought but as a key part of their children’s life. Based on the Census, 2020 first results single parent mothers make up 23% of all mothers parenting children under 18 years of age who live without a partner. In addition, 6% of fathers live without a partner and parent children under 18 is also significant (Census 2020, first results).
Mother’s Day is coming up so be thankful for what our mothers contributed and contribute to our lives especially those who parent and parented alone. The obstacles single parent mother’s face is insurmountable. Overcoming sexism, shattering the glass ceiling all while trying to be healthy parents to their offspring. Can you imagine why it would be easy to give up given the context that presents itself to women-mothers across the globe. My contention is that there were many times my mother could have been broken. She was ahead of her times given all three of her sons did laundry by the time we were early teens, knew how to cook at an early age and learned empathy at a young age for our mother’s challenges.
I have compiled a list of coping strategies for parental burnout (zerotothree.org):
Remember it is ok to drop some of the balls; share the workload; do something special for yourself; be present with others; give yourself and your child credit; focus on the problem and what it might be telling you.
Tips for managing teens to avoid burnout: (yourteenmag.com Neil Brown, LCSW):
Eliminate control battles. Be clear with your teen and yourself what your expectations of her are in a civilized tone. ‘Be sure that the change of behavior belongs to the teen. Be patient with your teen. Remember all their qualities and what you love about them and communicate that to them. Use privileges to motivate your child to do the right thing. Try not to overfocus on punishment but rather reward behavior you have agreed upon with your teen is culturally acceptable.
Have a regularly enforced tech policy in your home. Tech devices should be unavailable at meals and an hour before bedtime.
Get parenting support. If you have friends and family who gives unconditional acceptance and good listeners then engaging them would be productive. Do not enlist people who have a tendency to be overly critical.
Make time for yourself. Me-time is essential to surviving the rigors of parenting. If you paint, find time to paint a picture. If exercise is your thing find time to fit this into your schedule.
If feasible make sure your work environment meets your parenting needs. Try to get your employer to allow you to work a flexible enough schedule to meet your child’s needs.
A short poem about a single parent:
I think and think about how mom found the energy of heart to love so strong.
Tucking me in bed at night and tending to me in the morning.
Certain is she to approve of me in terms of development and disapprove of impulsive fight and flight.
Always there like a solid tree but she like me needs sun, water, air and rest.
JENNIFER EULBERG, MA, LPC
Welcome Jennifer, our new blogger!
Jennifer is a counselor at Sandhill who specializes in depression, self-esteem, and grief & loss. Get to know Jennifer as she shares her perspectives on life, contemplates value themes, and offers gentle encouragement.
THANK YOU to Stefanie Pisarkiewicz, LPC for her blog contributions from November 2014 - February 2019!