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The exhaustion of fathers is not the prerogative of mothers

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Can you define parental burnout?

Moira Mikolajczak: Parental burnout is a syndrome of burnout that results from prolonged exposure to stress related to the parenting role, in the absence of sufficient resources to compensate. The characteristic symptoms of parental burnout appear in the following order:

– A feeling of emotional exhaustion (feeling that you can no longer), cognitive (feeling that you can no longer think correctly) and/or physical (fatigue) linked to your role as a parent.

– The saturationcharacterized in particular by a feeling of “too full”, and by the absence of pleasure in the role of parent.

– The emotional distancing : the father no longer has the energy to invest in his relationship with his son and, therefore, he will pay less attention and importance to it, less will he show his son that he loves him.

– The contrasts with the way in which the father lived his fatherhood beforegenerating shame and guilt.

Although the study of this phenomenon is still very recent, it is currently estimated that parental burnout could affect between 5 and 7% of parents.

What are the consequences of parental burnout in the family environment?

Moira Mikolajczak: At the level of the parents themselves, studies have shown that parental burnout has the same consequences as burnout: sleep disturbances, health problems, increased alcohol consumption, suicidal thoughts. At the child level, we see first the neglect of their emotional needs, then only the neglect of their physical needs. There is also verbal abuse. When parental burnout is severe, it can even lead to physical violence. Finally, parental exhaustion increases irritability, which the exhausted father often takes out on his partner. This will increase the frequency of marital conflicts, as well as the likelihood of burnout for the second parent.

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What are the main reasons why a parent will burn out?

Moira Mikolajczak: Every burnout has its story. The common point of all burned-out parents is this “too full” of stress in relation to their resources. On the other hand, what “stresses” parents out can be very different from person to person. Some will be overly anxious because they have “difficult” children or children who are having difficulties in school. Others will be due to little help from a spouse or family. Other parents have very “easy” children, but are too stressed because they set the bar too high. Studies also show that having parental standards that are too high is a major risk factor for parental burnout.

Don’t society and social networks have a responsibility in this pressure that we feel to be perfect parents?

Moira Mikolajczak: Yes, sociologists show that the pressure that weighs on parents today is much greater than the one that weighed on the shoulders of our grandparents. Today, the father is constantly subjected to commands that tell him what to do (“5 fruits and vegetables a day”; take the time to understand your child’s emotions…) and what he cannot stop doing (no spanking, no screen before 3 years, no video games before 6 years…). And social media contributes a lot to this pressure: everyone posts the best of their parenting online and forgets to talk about the hard times. Parents, therefore, paradoxically, all have the impression that they are the only ones who encounter difficulties.

Sometimes we hear about maternal burnout. Does parental burnout therefore not affect parents?

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Moira Mikolajczak: Okay, yes! Contrary to what one might think, the wear and tear of fathers is not the prerogative of mothers. Among parents in parental burn-out, studies identify 2/3 of women and 1/3 of men. Although women still assume 2/3 of the parental tasks, men increasingly take their place in the role of parents, with the associated risks. Sometimes we forget that parenthood today is more “expensive” for a man than for a woman. Society conditions women from a very young age for the role of mother. No men. The men of this generation did not see their father being a dad as is expected of today’s men. Therefore, they learn their role later and “on the job.” This difference will undoubtedly disappear over the generations. But, for this, it is important that today’s new parents better prepare their children to be parents.

Moïra Mikolajczak is a doctor in psychology, professor at the University of Louvain-la-Neuve and research director. She co-directs, with Isabelle Roskam, the Parental Burnout Research Lab, an internationally renowned laboratory in the field of parental burnout, and the Parental Burnout Training Institute, which trains professionals in the field. Moïra herself is also the co-author of several reference books on parental burnout (Parent Burnout: Avoid It and Get Out of It in Odile Jacob and Parental Burnout: Understanding, Diagnosis, and Management in DeBoeck).

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=> READ ALSO

“Since I was close to maternal exhaustion, I stopped managing my life like a to-do list”
Sandrine Raffin-Joineau, 39, was a very active “working mom”, a prisoner of a great mental load. Until exhaustion. She realized that exhaustion was not far off when she, during an argument with her daughter, cut off her stuffed animal’s ear. She then decided to change her life and help working mothers find their balance. Testimony.

to go further

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The Burn-out Academy and humor work offer for the first time in France Comprehensive training in managing these two forms of burnout ! More information here.

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Family / Couple

Separation: the signs that can predict the breakup three months in advance

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A study published in February 2021, in the scientific journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, made it possible to identify certain elements of idiom what would allow predict a breakup three months before it happens. To achieve this, researchers from the University of Texas analyzed more than a million posts on romantic relationships on the Reddit site. They discovered that the vocabulary used by users changed three months before the split and didn’t return to normal until about six months later. “It would seem that even before the people involved are aware of the breakup, it starts to affect their lives,” said Sarah Seraj, one of the study’s author psychologists.

Different “language markers”

According to the researchers, we do not pay a particular attention the expressions, pronouns and prepositions that we use daily. Now, these function words say a lot about our life situation, so they change perceptibly when our the psychological and emotional state deteriorates. “Whether the person leaves their partner or vice versa, the language markers changed up to three months before the breakup,” adds the psychologist.

The language used becomes more personal and informal, indicating a decline in analytical thinking. According to the expert, these people use pronouns like “I” Where “to meto the detriment of “we” or “we”, more attached to the notion of a couple. This indicator would be a signal of a heavy mental load, illustrating going through an intense period of internal reflection and rumination, making us more centered in ourselves Furthermore, the frequent use of the pronoun “I” would be associated with sadness and depressiondetails Sarah Seraj. When we are depressed, we focus more on ourselves and are less and less able to relate to others.

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Those significant changes they reached their climax at the time of the breakup and lasted up to six months later, even though those concerned discussed topics other than their separation or love life.

Our language, responsible for our traumas?

Scientists have also discovered that it is our idiom which would be largely responsible our ability or not to heal and overcome the trauma of a breakup. The people who kept the same way of speaking until a year later separation, by continually evoking and remembering this painful episode, took the longest to recover and move on. And this, regardless of the trauma experienced: divorce, loss of a loved one or other emotional upset, according to the researchers. “Thanks to this study, we can better understand the different challenges of life, being more attentive to our way of speaking,” concludes Kate Blackburn, psychologist.

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Family / Couple

Separation: the signs that can predict the breakup three months in advance

Published

on

A study published in February 2021, in the scientific journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, made it possible to identify certain elements of idiom what would allow predict a breakup three months before it happens. To achieve this, researchers from the University of Texas analyzed more than a million posts on romantic relationships on the Reddit site. They discovered that the vocabulary used by users changed three months before the split and didn’t return to normal until about six months later. “It would seem that even before the people involved are aware of the breakup, it starts to affect their lives,” said Sarah Seraj, one of the study’s author psychologists.

Different “language markers”

According to the researchers, we do not pay a particular attention the expressions, pronouns and prepositions that we use daily. Now, these function words say a lot about our life situation, so they change perceptibly when our the psychological and emotional state deteriorates. “Whether the person leaves their partner or vice versa, the language markers changed up to three months before the breakup,” adds the psychologist.

The language used becomes more personal and informal, indicating a decline in analytical thinking. According to the expert, these people use pronouns like “I” Where “to meto the detriment of “we” or “we”, more attached to the notion of a couple. This indicator would be a signal of a heavy mental load, illustrating going through an intense period of internal reflection and rumination, making us more centered in ourselves Furthermore, the frequent use of the pronoun “I” would be associated with sadness and depressiondetails Sarah Seraj. When we are depressed, we focus more on ourselves and are less and less able to relate to others.

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Those significant changes they reached their climax at the time of the breakup and lasted up to six months later, even though those concerned discussed topics other than their separation or love life.

Our language, responsible for our traumas?

Scientists have also discovered that it is our idiom which would be largely responsible our ability or not to heal and overcome the trauma of a breakup. The people who kept the same way of speaking until a year later separation, by continually evoking and remembering this painful episode, took the longest to recover and move on. And this, regardless of the trauma experienced: divorce, loss of a loved one or other emotional upset, according to the researchers. “Thanks to this study, we can better understand the different challenges of life, being more attentive to our way of speaking,” concludes Kate Blackburn, psychologist.

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Family / Couple

‘Sex Debt’: Why Women Sometimes Feel Pressured to Have Unwanted Sex

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The conversation

Faced with such attention, many of them have sometimes agreed to engage in sexual experiences (kissing, caressing, oral sex, sexual relations) with men without necessarily wanting to, but out of a feeling of responsibility. This sense of responsibility was also expressed by some young men in same-sex relationships.

In this article, however, we choose to focus on heterosexual relationships, where this logic has emerged most markedly.

Les jeunes femmes rencontrées explicant que, si elles ont acepté, ce n’est pas parce qu’elles n’arrivent pas à dire non, mais parce qu’elles auraient dû se douter qu’en acceptant ces faveurs, elles créeraient des attentes sexualles in his house.

Always willing men and always sexually available women?

Sexuality, like other social practices, can be understood as a space where sexual relations materialize.

If the young women interviewed feel more indebted to sex than the young men, it is because they are subject to behavioral expectations linked to a system of binary representations of sexuality called “heteronormativity”.

In this system, sex corresponds to gender and heterosexuality is the norm.

In this logic, the sexual roles of men and women are understood as different and complementary: male sexuality is characterized by assertiveness, sexual performance, virility, and sexual desire associated with physiological needs. Female sexuality, of a relational nature, is linked to affectivity and conjugality.

Various studies show that these representations are still the majority in our societies today.

according to one French survey, 73% of French women and 59% of men adhere to the belief that “by nature, men have more sexual needs than women”. Also according to this survey, this belief has an impact on the sexual practices of women who recognize that they are more willing to have sex without wanting to.

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An investigation carried out in Switzerland among young people aged 26 on average reveals that 53% of the women surveyed have agreed to have sexual relations. without desire.

Sex “debts”

The results of our study point in the same direction and highlight that the heteronormative order engenders what can be called “sex debts”. We are interested in sexual transactions, that is, sexual experiences associated with an economic, material and/or symbolic exchange.

As for young women, our analyzes show that if they are found more often than young men accepting unwanted sexual transactionsit is due to the fact that in the “gender order”, female sexuality is posed as a “sexual debt” that leads them to feel indebted to the sexual expectations of men.

However, by consenting to sexual transactions without necessarily wanting it, women confirm their own “sexual debt” to men, which is to ensure an assertive, determined and desiring sexuality, and which sometimes leads them to show (apparent) detachment from women. demands.

Thus, women and men come together in the complementarity of their “sexual debts”, but in a hierarchical relationship: women think that they have no choice but to offer their sexuality in response to the supposed expectations of men, to whom they affirm that they do not they have no choice but to be willing, sexually available, and successful.

Consequently, they reproduce, without necessarily wanting it, “gender order”.

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Consent: A Negotiation Process

Sexual experiences are part of a reciprocal bargaining relationship where, depending on the situation, not everything is arranged in advance. In the case we are analyzing, the young people retain a certain freedom, which allows them to negotiate the rest of the transaction, despite the feeling of responsibility that may arise.

In particular, some young women have stated that they find some advantages in these unwanted sexual relations, which can be material (housing, food, etc.) and/or symbolic (feeling of recognition, protection, etc.). Other young women refuse to conform to the expectations linked to their gender and adopt behaviors more associated with the masculine gender, for example being assertive both verbally and in attitude or clearly expressing their limits and leaving little room for what is implicit and misunderstandings.

However, these strategies often have a limited effect, since they consist of changing the behavior of women, without questioning the heterosexual order within which these behaviors occur.

These results show that sexual consent is a complex process that cannot be reduced to saying “yes” or “no” and that “accepting” does not necessarily mean “wanting”.

Thus, the feeling of responsibility reveals the logic associated with a “gender order” based on heteronormativity. However, sexual consent is not the sole responsibility of individuals, especially women, to assert their rights. Our conclusions invite us to understand sexual consent as a negotiation process, between conformity to gender norms and the bargaining power of individuals.

An article published in The conversation through Mirian CarbajalProfessor, University of Social Work, Western Swiss University of Applied Sciences (HES-SO) and Anamaria ColomboProfessor, Friborg University of Social Work, Western Swiss University of Applied Sciences (HES-SO).

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