Pressure to be perfect raising burnout in parents, anxiety in children: Study

New Delhi: Societal pressure to be perfect is increasing parental burnout and raising the risk of children suffering from stress, anxiety, and depression, a study revealed on Wednesday. Researchers from The Ohio State University found that the pressure to try to be “perfect” leads to unhealthy impacts on both parents and their children.

Their study, based on a month-long survey of more than 700 parents in the US, showed that 57 per cent of parents self-reported burnout. The study defined “parental burnout as strongly associated with internal and external expectations, including whether one feels they are a good parent, perceived judgement from others, time to play with their children, the relationship with their spouse and keeping a clean house.”

“The illusion and expectations of ‘perfect parenting’ can be deflating,” said Kate Gawlik, one of the lead researchers on the study and an associate clinical professor at the Ohio State College of Nursing.

“I think social media has just really tipped the scales. We have high expectations for ourselves as parents; we have high expectations for what our kids should be doing. Then, on the flip side, you’re comparing yourself to other people and other families, and there is a lot of judgement that goes on. And whether it’s intended or not, it’s still there,” said Gawlik, who pursued this research based on her experience as a working mother of four.

Notably, the parent’s mental health and behaviours strongly impact their children’s mental health. If children have a mental health disorder, parents report a higher level of burnout and a greater likelihood for them to insult, criticise, scream at, curse at, and/or physically harm their children (that is, repeated spanking).

On the other hand, quality time spent with parents reduced children’s mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and bipolar disorder.

The study suggested parents boost their connection with children and become active listeners, while also “catching, checking and changing negative thoughts into positive ones; readjusting expectations for the parent and the child; and reflecting and acting on priorities”.  (IANS)

Also Read: Keep Your Children Away From Mobiles, AI Voice And Touch Screens Eating Up Their Brains

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