A comprehensive review of studies on parents’ work schedules determined that parents are working more during the evening, night and on the weekends.
The new “nonstandard work schedules” or “unsociable work hours” for parents were found to be associated with child development problems.
When parents work such hours, children tended to have more behavioral problems, poorer cognitive ability (e.g., language, reading and mathematics), and were more likely to be overweight or obese than children in families where parents mostly worked during the daytime hours and weekdays.
The international review was based on research in developed countries.
Study authors, however, admit several challenges in tracking and capturing the parents’ work schedules and how these may matter to children’s health and development.
Nevertheless, in 21 out of 23 reviewed studies, a negative association was found between parents’ nonstandard work schedules and indicators of child development.
Most studies have examined child behavior covering infancy to adolescence. These associations were in part attributed to parents’ depressive symptoms, poorer quality parenting, reduced child-parent interaction and closeness, and a less supportive home environment.
Problems linked with unsociable work hours were more pronounced in disadvantaged families, such as low income or single-parent families, and when parents worked such hours on a full time basis.
Findings from the review highlight the need for financial, workplace, childcare and other community supports for parents, especially in vulnerable families.
Researchers also believe the 24/7 economy may be adding to the challenges faced by parents in managing their work and parenting commitments — especially when jobs require them to work unsociable hours.
Source: WZB Berlin Social Science Center