creative-motherNorth Carolina State University researchers report that parents who work odd schedules or jobs that differ from the typical “9 to 5” schedule risk deteriorating the relationship they have with their children. In some instances, however, the researchers found that certain work odd schedules help form better child-parent relationships than a 9 to 5.

An odd schedule

For their study, the researchers used   data from a nationwide survey of 1,986 adolescents aged 10-17. Information regarding parents’ work schedule was correlated with self-reports by the adolescents concerning their relationships with parents, school activity and delinquency.

Multiple scenarios were looked at: households where both parents worked 9-to-5; households where one parent worked a standard schedule and one worked a nonstandard schedule; households where both parents worked nonstandard schedules and finally households where single-mothers worked a standard schedule, and where the mothers worked a nonstandard schedule.

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modern-parenthood1The best child-parent relationships and lowest delinquency scores were reported in families where the parents worked as tag-partners. More specifically when the father worked in a conventional schedule, while the mother a non-conventional schedule. Interestingly enough, this was not the case when the roles were switched; fathers working an unconventional schedule while mothers worked a conventional schedule didn’t score any different than households were both parents were 9-to-5’rs.

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Modern times, modern parents. How about modern kids?

However, children in two-parent households where both parents work nonstandard schedules reported weaker bonds with their parents, compared to children in households where both parents work standard schedules.  Apparently, worst off however are children living in single-mother households as the adolescents reported  higher levels of delinquent behavior and weaker child-parent bonds.

“Nonstandard work is becoming increasingly prevalent in our society, so many people will end up working in these types of jobs. We are not blaming single mothers or telling people not to work a nonstandard job if that is what’s available,” Hendrix says.

“What we want to highlight is the need for social institutions to be in synch with each other,” says Dr. Toby Parcel, a professor of sociology at NC State and senior author of the paper. “Research indicates that approximately one in five workers works a nonstandard schedule and we need support systems – such as after-school programs – to accommodate the needs of those families. That’s just one example. What about households with parents who work swing shifts or night shifts? Addressing their needs is an important challenge we must face.”

Findings were reported in the Journal of Family Issues.

“Parental Nonstandard Work, Family Processes, and Delinquency During Adolescence”

Authors: Joshua A. Hendrix and Toby L. Parcel, North Carolina State University

Published: online Nov. 24, 2013, Journal of Family Issues

DOI: 10.1177/0192513X13510299