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Long working hours for parents harm children's health


Family-friendly working hours support children's development

Young families often have to cope with several strains. Often, one parent shortens their working life in order to be able to devote more attention to the child. Less income then stands in contrast to the increased expenses that a child brings with it. In many cases, the other parent tries to compensate for this by working overtime. But researchers recently found in a study that parents' evening and night work can have a negative impact on children's mental health.

A team of researchers from the Berlin Science Center (WZB) examined possible negative effects on the behavior and emotional stability of children due to late working hours of the parents. To do this, they evaluated data from 838 children aged seven to ten years. Accordingly, evening and night shifts in particular had a strong negative impact. According to the study, parents with these working hours tended to be more strict and negative communication behavior. The study results were recently published in the journal "Community, Work & Family".

Scolding and screaming

The team used data from the “Families in Germany” study, which was collected by the German Institute for Economic Research from 2010 to 2013. According to the scientists, parents with late working hours were more likely to scold, criticize and yell at their child, which in turn greatly influenced the child's well-being. As a result, negative consequences have been identified in many areas of children's mental health.

Are parents with family-unfriendly working hours overwhelmed?

The data used showed that 23 percent of the fathers surveyed worked regularly at night and 40 percent in the evening. In the case of mothers, this occurred in eleven percent of the cases at night and in 28 percent in the evening. The effects were measured in four areas: hyperactivity, emotional problems, conspicuous behavior and problems with peers. In all of these areas, late working hours had negative consequences.

The children's behavior changed most clearly

The researchers identified the biggest change in the area of ​​child behavior. The affected children apparently showed more behavioral problems. "This is significant in that behavioral disorders at a young age pose a higher risk of later delinquency, drug threats or difficult educational and professional careers," the team of authors explains in a press release from the WZB on the study results.

The parenting style of both parents is changing

Another interesting detail of the study was the finding that one parent's evening and night work often led to a change in the parenting style of the other parent. Men were even more affected by this influence. When her wives were working late, the parenting style changed more often. The researchers speak of a so-called "spill-over" (transmission effect).

Unhealthy night work

Not only the WZB research team dealt with the harmful effects of evening and night work. Other studies in recent years have shown other negative aspects of family-unfriendly working hours and have made headlines such as "shift work leads to fatal heart disease", "long working hours are a health risk" or "shift work impairs the mind". (vb)

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