Parents’ Stress, Parental Burnout, and Parenting Behavior during the COVID-19 Pandemic: Comparing Parents of Children with and without Complex Care Needs

Eline N. Desimpelaere*, Bart Soenens, Peter Prinzie, Joachim Waterschoot, Maarten Vansteenkiste, Sofie Morbée, Charlotte Schrooyen, Sarah S.W. De Pauw

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Parental burnout emerges as a response to chronic and overwhelming parenting stress and is related to dysfunctional parenting practices, such as neglectful or violent behavior. Grounded in Self-Determination Theory, the current study aims to evaluate parenting stress as an antecedent and the more general quality of parenting as an outcome of parental burnout. This objective is tackled within the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, which posed major challenges to parents, especially to those raising children with complex care needs (CCN; i.e., an intellectual and/or physical disability, and/or behavioral and/or emotional problems). Therefore, this study explores mean-level group differences in parenting stress, parental burnout, and parenting behaviors between parents raising children with and without CCN, and tests whether associations between these variables are similar for both groups of parents. A group of 506 parents (88% mothers, M age = 44 years) participated in a widespread online survey during the first lockdown in Belgium. Based on mean-level differences, parents of children with CCN reported substantially higher levels of parenting stress and parental burnout but scored similarly on the assessed parenting behaviors. Multigroup structural equation models showed that in both groups, parenting stress was related positively to parental burnout which, in turn, was related to less autonomy-supportive and responsive parenting and to more psychologically controlling parenting. Although raising a child with CCN may be a risk factor for increased parental stress and burnout, the functional role of these parental experiences in the quality of parenting appears to be similar across both groups of parents.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3681-3696
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Child and Family Studies
Volume32
Issue number12
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 19 Oct 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature.

Research programs

  • ESSB PSY

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