Parents who feel they are neglecting their childcare responsibilities while they are working are likely to be less productive at work, a study has found, with experts calling on businesses to do more to tackle this issue.
The research, by Durham Business School, found that when faced with conflicting work and childcare responsibilities, parents who already had lower levels of emotional stability were more likely to feel that their identity as a parent was under threat.
Because of the ‘shame’ this caused, these parents were more likely to compensate by putting more of their efforts into their childcare responsibilities at the expense of their efforts at work.
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Dr Yingli Deng, assistant professor at Durham University Business School, explained that where work and childcare are seen as being in competition with each other, parents will reduce their efforts in one area in order to focus on the other.
“Working parents not only experience pressure to exemplify an ‘ideal’ worker role, but they are also expected to engage in intensive parenting practices to raise successful children,” she said. “But, although [work and childcare] roles can complement each other, many find achieving this balance challenging, and therefore end up prioritising childcare as it is deemed more important.”
The study, which observed nearly 300 working parents, found that higher levels of emotional stability helped mitigate feelings of shame and the threat to workers’ identities as parents.
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Parents with lower levels of emotional stability were more likely to negatively evaluate information, and tended to have higher levels of self-criticism and stronger emotional reactions to events.