Parenting Finnish research: Rapid recovery has protected parents from exhaustion during exceptional times

The study found that parents of young children, especially mothers, are at risk of exhaustion. That, according to the researcher, is alarming.

Resilience has protected Finnish parents from exhaustion during the coronavirus epidemic, according to a recent study.

Resilience means the ability to recover quickly from stress and adversity.

The Department of Psychology of the University of Jyväskylä investigated the well-being of families during the epidemic. 1,105 parents from different parts of Finland responded to the survey.

It was found that the risk of fatigue during the exception period was increased by the young age of the parent, the young age of the children, the special needs of the children, and changes in time use after the children froze home from day care or school due to an emergency.

“It is alarming that parents of young children, especially mothers, are at risk of exhaustion,” says the docent Matilda Sorkkila From the University of Jyväskylä.

Sorkkila is responsible for the project together with the professor Kaisa Aunolan with.

Exhaustion is linked to child abuse and violence. According to Sorkkila, it is known that exhaustion also increases drug use, suicidal thoughts, relationship conflicts and escape thoughts, ie the desire to leave the family.

“We’ve noticed in the past that stressors tend to pile up. It’s important to identify families at risk so that we can intervene in a timely manner and support families.”

Research results based on which the parents could be divided into three different profiles. Half of the respondents belonged to the resilient, one-seventh to the exhausted and about one-third to the perfectionist.

Residents had few symptoms of exhaustion or striving for perfection. They were more often older or male than other parents and felt their financial situation was better.

Resident people are optimistic, resourceful, recognizing their own resources, flexible and approaching situations as an opportunity. Some in the group were more functional than others.

“Resilience has been thought to be a relatively permanent, partly inherited trait. But it has also been shown that it can be practiced, for example, by changing one’s own ways of thinking, ”says Sorkkila.

Exhausted several of the parents had perfectionism coming from outside, especially small children, and children with special needs. They also spent more time with their children.

The intermediate group, the parents striving for perfection, were not exhausted but also not particularly resilient. Their children were usually over 10 years old.

Previous studies have found that requirements, especially from the outside, can be prone to exhaustion.

“In this study, however, we found that striving for perfection is not associated with exhaustion for all parents,” Sorkkila says.

According to him, among other things, further research would be needed on whether the parents belonging to the group have been exhausted in the past.

Many of the exhausted parents had perfectionism coming from outside, especially small children, and children with special needs. They also spent more time with their children.

Research is a follow-up to the International Investigation of Parental Burnout (IIPB) study launched in 2018 by the University of Louvain, Belgium. At that time, a comparison between 42 countries showed that Finnish parents are among the most exhausted parents in the world.

Read more: Finnish parents are among the most exhausted in the world, and the reason was found in the study: “You know what you need to do to make a child normal,” says Hanna, a mother of two.

The study found that parents are exposed to exhaustion through the individuality of culture, which means loose social networks and the assumption that a person can do it alone and take care of themselves.

Unlike now, in the previous study, the age of the children or the time spent with the children had no effect on parental exhaustion. For Finns, Sorkkila thinks that the difference is explained by the effects of the epidemic. During the exceptional period, for example, day care or other care assistance has not been available in the same way.

“Exhaustion arises from the fact that requirements constantly exceed resources. When people moved to a distance school during the epidemic and moved their own jobs home, the recovery has decreased. ”

Read more: Research: More than 300,000 Finns have suffered from mental symptoms during the corona epidemic

According to Sorkkila, it would be important for mothers of young children in particular to be taught mercy towards themselves and self-acceptance. Resilience skills could also be taught.

“It is also important for a parent to care about themselves and take time for themselves, and to take into account that the parent is as human as others with their own feelings and needs.”

Fresh the study has been approved for publication in the peer-reviewed The Family Journal. The Finnish material is part of a corresponding global international comparison.

“While the pandemic has affected all countries, among other things, curfews have varied from country to country. In an international comparison, we get results from its effect, ”says Sorkkila.

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