International study assesses the impact of COVID-19 on parental exhaustion

The objective of this group of scientists is to study the conceptual validity, prevalence and intercultural variation of parental burnout worldwide

An international consortium, bringing together scientists from 40 countries, including Portugal, is studying the impact of COVID-19 on parental satisfaction and exhaustion in the world. The aim of this cross-cultural investigation is to increase the understanding of the factors that hinder or help fathers and mothers to deal with the stress resulting from the need to reconcile multiple tasks in a situation of confinement.

The implications of the pandemic we face, “specifically confinement to home, social isolation, the closure of daycare centers, kindergartens and schools, teleworking, lay-offs and dismissals, have posed new challenges to the exercise of parenting and of coparenting ”, says Maria Filomena Gaspar, researcher at the Center for Social Studies (CES) and professor at the Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences at the University of Coimbra (FPCEUC), who coordinates the study in Portugal, together with Anne Maria Fontaine , emeritus professor at the University of Porto (UP).

These challenges, adds the specialist in Educational Psychology at UC, “result from the multiple tasks that they have to reconcile (usual parenting functions, support for school education at home, work at home, increased hours spent on domestic tasks) in a situation of confinement. which is new and, for many parents, accompanied by major financial challenges and the anticipation of difficulties in the future ».

The team requests the participation of fathers and mothers in this study by completing a questionnaire, available at:

A special appeal is made to fathers to respond, “because it is usually mothers who participate most in this type of investigation, which creates a gap in the understanding of men’s parental satisfaction and exhaustion”. The only condition is to have at least 1 child (a) to live at home, whatever the age.

Maria Filomena Gaspar explains that «there are factors that can help fathers and mothers to deal with the stress resulting from the need to reconcile multiple tasks in a situation of confinement, while others can make it difficult. The first group includes the existence of a partner who shares tasks and moments when fathers / mothers take care of themselves, for example, while in the second group we can consider the existence of a child with behavior problems or hyperactivity or a very self-demanding mother / father with themselves ».

This is the second major study conducted by the international consortium that investigates parental burnout (IIBP: International Investigation of Parental Burnout) and is led by Isabelle Roskam and Moïra Mikolajczak, from the University of Louvain, Belgium.


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