Date of Award

Spring 2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


College of Education


Department of Education

Primary Advisor

Dr. Laura C. Brown

Second Advisor

Dr. Janet L. Deck

Third Advisor

Dr. Teresa Paton


Parental burnout is a complex syndrome resulting from chronic parenting stress. The components of parental burnout include overwhelming exhaustion, emotional distancing, and a sense of ineffectiveness in the parenting role. Parents of children with medical complexity (CMC) face a wide range of parenting stressors related to their child’s diagnosis. The purpose of this case study was to explore the role of social support in mitigating parental burnout in mothers of CMC. Five mothers participated in semi-structured interviews using Zoom video conferencing. Results of the study revealed three salient themes: types of social support, isolation, and helping others. Types of social support included four subcategories: church support, practical support, mental health support, and respite/childcare support. Results of the study indicated that community-based organizations should maximize partnerships with churches and other non-profit organizations to mitigate parental burnout and feelings of isolation for mothers of CMC. Findings suggested that mothers of CMC may experience positive benefits from helping others. Future studies on the role of helping may provide valuable insight into the motivations, outcomes, and benefits for mothers of CMC. To mitigate parental burnout and feelings of isolation, community-based organizations, practitioners, and mental health advocates can help families of CMC to find social support and opportunities to help others.