Turns out that it’s harder for children to stay in a child’s place, particularly if their parent has a challenging job.
According to findings from a recent longitudinal study that followed more than 370 low-wage, working-class families over more than ten years, “children’s developmental outcomes were directly and significantly affected by their parents’ work lives.”
The Harvard Business Review’s Maureen Perry-Jenkins shared that parents’ experience in the workplace had a direct and measurable affect on their kids’ early development.
“For example, one father in the study — Tyson — worked for a shipping company that mandated he use a monitor that let his boss track his every move as he delivered packages,” Perry-Jenkins wrote. “Tyson felt a complete lack of trust from his company and reported feeling highly stressed, despite being a top performer. He described how he came home from work tired and frustrated and, as a result, he explained that “I just don’t have the energy for a needy baby.” Conversely, Sonya was a home health aide whose boss empowered her to manage her time independently and asked for her input on how best to support clients. Sonya felt respected by her supervisor, and this positivity spilled over into how she parented her first-grade daughter, Kaya: When Sonya returned home from work, she was hands-on, engaged, warm, and joyful in her interactions with Kaya.”
Although this research is enlightening regarding children’s response to their parents’ work-related stress levels, researchers have long reported that unhealthy workplace conditions can immensely impact adults.
According to the International Classification of Diseases burnout was listed as a medical condition related to employment or unemployment.
Fortunately, the rise of remote work can help with abating the symptoms of burnout, which can look like unabating fatigue, irritability and a loss of interest in normal life activities.
“The good news is, providing working parents with the autonomy and supportive relationships that our research shows can have such a powerful, positive impact on children’s wellbeing is easier than one might expect,” Perry-Jenkins wrote. “While many people might assume that low-wage jobs are inherently stressful, “bad” jobs, the parents we talked to described many common sense business practices that their employers had used to help both workers and their families thrive (despite the financial stress that often accompanies these low-paid jobs).”