Family Burnout: When Parents and Children Are Affected
Mothers exhausted, fathers overcome, children caught in a vise. For fear of not being up to par, some parents are doing more. Decryption of a disturbing phenomenon.
Contagious work overload
The work, the house, the children and twenty-four hours to ensure everything. Impossible mission? In 2013, 63% of employed mothers were in a state of exhaustion, to the extent that one-third of them admitted taking anxiolytics and vitamin supplements daily *. “These women rarely realize that they are burn-out or close to being, and do not always think about consulting,” says psychologist Aline Native Id Hammer. “When they come to ask, it is rather because they worry about their children. School results in free fall, verbal or physical aggression (at school or home), attitude abnormally enclosed, as many behaviors that they do manage to regulate. “Children are sponges. Often, Their problem is only the translation of the anxieties of their parents, “analyzes this practitioner specializing in family therapy. She remembers this 8-year-old boy who, during their first face-to-face meeting, had collapsed on the carpet of his cabinet. Burnt out. “After the divorce of his parents, he was in charge of his mother who, for fear of downgrading, precariousness, gave himself entirely to his work. Suddenly, she had concocted a timetable worthy of his, quasi-ministerial “.
After school, the kid chains the courses: support in math, music theory, tennis. “She certainly made up for her lack of availability. However, above all, she thought she would give her the best assets to succeed, “says the psychologist who observes” the incredible demand for perfection “that mothers impose today. What about fathers? “Often, the overinvestment deployed by their spouses in the management of the daily disembowels them. They struggle to find their place, and stress the idea of not doing what it takes, “explains Aline Native Id Hammer.
Beatrice, a 40-year-old digital marketing consultant and 4-year-old twin mom, was burned out at the end of 2013. In retrospect, she remembers the infernal spiral that brought her to the bottom of the hole: “I was in the hyper-control of everything. The very idea of asking for help or giving my children three hours a day to a nanny while I was on parental leave would have been the highlight, “says the young woman, who wanted to be” irreproachable on all The plans “… like his mother. In her eyes, a model of a housewife who had raised her three children while continuing to work. “I thought I had to be at least at his height. ”
Profiles like this one, Yamaha Truong, specialist educator, meets every day. On the ground for ten years, she has seen a disturbing phenomenon develop. “Parents compare greatly to the riding arena when they leave school … The explosion of social networks has further accentuated this very stressful competitive process because, if their child seems to them to be worse or worse than others, Is necessarily their fault. ”
The consumer society has been there. “Today, parents are always making all kinds of arbitrations, which encourages frustration, anxiety to make mistakes, and multiplies situations of conflicts at home,” notes Yamaha Truong. Faced with this perpetual fear of doing wrong, the answer is to learn to let go, to say no. “One day my therapist uttered these magic words:” You will love you even if you are not permanently available. ” It freed me, “recalls Beatrice. Now she takes the time to do sport twice a week, shares the ironing with her husband, and even taught her children not to cut her off anymore. “If they have anything to say to me, they put their hand on my arm and wait for me to finish speaking. These are little things, very simple, but they have changed my life. Moreover, restored confidence and coherence to the whole family.
Testimonials from mothers
Gaelle, 34, assistant nursery, three children.
“My son has adopted the same behavior as me.”
In the four years before my burnout, I completely forgot. Always available, listening to my husband, the mothers I attended to the maternity, my children. It was always them and never me. I was so exhausted that I ended up being constantly on the nerves. As soon as someone asked me something, or I heard “Mom,” I reacted aggressively. My eldest son began to behave the same way I did to his sisters, his classmates. I became a monster, and I trained my family in my wake. The worst part is that I did not realize it.
Lucile, 34, project manager and creator of the blog exhaustion-maternal, two children
“My husband took refuge in work.”
When I became Mom for the second time, I was overwhelmed. I took a parental leave to devote myself to my children who were very demanding. Very quickly, I felt overwhelmed. I could not even satisfy my primary needs, sleep and eat. I had the impression that I did not understand anything, and that I was in total isolation. My husband was coming in later and later. His work was his refuge. It was only when my burn-out was diagnosed that he realized what had happened to me, and that was amazing. If our union had not been stable, it would have exploded.