Ideas & Advice

Opinion | How Burnout Affects Men

Opinion | How Burnout Affects Men
Written by Publishing Team

Yet cynicism is commonly seen as a sign of competence. As a result, the Stern Director, the Tough Detective, and the Blunt Doctor are all male-coded cultural archetypes. Emotionally open male figures have yet to completely supplant them. Fictional football coach Ted Lasso with all smiles and positive self-talk is funny because he defies the paradigm. In fact, it was tough New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick whose mantra is “Do your job” who won six Super Bowls.

The way men wear themselves out as parents also reflects how they are conditioned by the ethic of breadwinner. In one study, researchers in Belgium found that while mothers scored higher on the measure of parental exhaustion, fathers exhibited burnout and its negative consequences more quickly: escaping fantasies, suicidal thoughts and child neglect. That is, given the same level of parenting stress, fathers reacted much worse than mothers, putting both themselves and their children at greater risk of harm.

β€œFathers may be more vulnerable to the demands arising from a role which is gendered and which is not seen as an integral part of being a man,” the Belgian researchers write.

A skeptic might see this as proof that men are weak and blessed. However, researchers see it as a sign that societies need to do a better job of preparing men to share the burden of parenthood.

When men encounter problems at work or elsewhere in their lives, they are much less likely than women to talk about them, either in public or in private. Written accounts of male burnout are hard to come by. Men are about 40 percent less likely than women to seek advice for any reason. And the well-documented male friendship crisis means that many men have no one except their spouse or partner whom they think they can open up emotionally. Single men often have no one at all; when they run out, they can do it on their own.

The main issues that distinguish men’s burnout – the characteristic cynicism, lack of preparation for parenthood, and reluctance to face their struggles with work and fatherhood – share roots in the stoic ethic of duty. that our society has instilled in boys and men for decades: go to work, and shut up about it. If you can put food on the table, then you are a good father.

The breadwinner ethic is a mistaken masculinization of a lofty ideal – which even those who don’t work still deserve to eat – shared by men and women. It is a source of meaning for countless people who work in difficult conditions so that their children do not have to. It’s also difficult to live with. This lingering ideal has been devastating for many blue-collar workers, who tied their self-esteem to the idea that they were suppliers even as their job prospects dwindled.

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