Parents And Children Essay
Historically North American households have been characterized by a male breadwinner and a housewife. However, this pattern is becoming increasingly more rare as two-parent working households are three times more likely than they were just twenty years ago (Daniel, 2018 ). For many, this shift stems from the high standard of living or the expenses of necessities, food, clothing, transportation, and shelter, that require more than what most single-income households can provide. Other explanations suggest a large factor is the impressive growth of mothers entering the workforce post-pardum, a practice that is now culturally acceptable and even strongly urged. In contrast to previous generations where the mother would remain homebound and her primary duty would be to look after the child[ren]. Another influence in this change could be the government initiatives that have been “designed to reduce dependency on state benefits and improve family finances by encouraging more parents to take up paid work” (Ermisch & Francesconi, 2001). Whatever the incentive, this transformation is bound to have distinct effects on a parent, child and family dynamic. In this regard, a critical question to acknowledge is whether this shift has created a positive or negative consequence for the child[ren]. In this paper, we intend to examine the consequences of having two working parents (no stay at home parent) on child-rearing and development by discussing the new wave of female education, innovation and occupation, the opportunities derived from dual incomes and the loss of the nuclear family foundation.
Sociology is the systematic study of society and social interactions (Bereska & Symbaluk, 2012). It is described as a critical “window on the world”, something that gives us a broader perspective on the world that we wouldn’t otherwise have (Bereska & Symbaluk, 2012). That being said, examining family dynamics, specifically the relationship between children and parents and money and love is crucial to understanding the change in family forms throughout history from society to society and within societies (McDaniel & Tepperman, 2007). It is difficult to establish a clear causal relationship between these factors as there are many extraneous variables that can not be controlled, however we can comment on significant associations and correlations. In regards to dual-earner couples with children, this is a generally new phenomenon which is why it is so crucial to examine from a sociological perspective. Analyzing this shift can help us understand if having two working parents provides benefits that outweigh the negative impacts on child development.
An argument can be made that maternal participation in paid work could potentially limit opportunities for families to create nurturing environments by reducing the amount of time parents and children spend together (Chee, Conger & Elder, 2009). According to the U.S. Bureau of the Census, in 1998, 64 % of U.S. married mothers with a preschool child were in the workforce (1999), compared with 42% in 1981 (Sandberg & Hofferth, 2001). This increase is monumental for female empowerment and a shift towards a completely egalitarian society, yet it could have incidental side-effects for the children. Research done by Kyong Chee and Rand Conger suggests that the amount of unsupervised time after school for children or what is otherwise known as latchkey children can be associated with a mother’s time spent at a paid job away from home (Muller, 1995). This is not to say that maternal employment itself threatens child development, rather, incidentally, it can be assumed that a mother’s extended, irregular work hours may reduce opportunities for involvement in their children’s lives like what has been the previous norm (Sandberg & Hofferth, 2001). The dual-earner family is now the most common family form in North American society (Barnett, 1994), however, that doesn’t mean that parental roles have necessarily adapted to this new shift. According to Professor Nancy Hooymans and colleague Judith Gonyea, in most modern households, despite both parents working outside the home, mothers remain the primary caregivers in families, “without much relief from husbands for household responsibilities” (Hooymans and Gonyea, 1995). Women are still relied on to complete their housewife and “motherly” tasks while pursuing a career and succeeding in their field. Research has found that mothers working long or irregular hours are at greater risk for experiencing emotional distress because those strenuous conditions are likely to interfere with family responsibilities such as parenting duties (Sandberg & Hofferth, 2001). This distress can be offset if the father is present and equally responsible in the caregiving process because the stress would then be reduced for the mother. This is important because a mothers’ emotional health can be linked to how nurturant and involved they will be with their children (Muller, 1995). To summarize, work has an implicit effect on a mother’s parental abilities as it can be a trigger for emotional distress which can be transferred to home life.
Parents are a critical part of a child’s development as they provide the foundation for kids to grow, learn and mature. They are relied on for both their time and money to ensure their offspring has the optimal necessities for success. This relationship is complicated because parents time at work is usually equated to more money and less time devoted to their children. A common favourable argument for two working parents is the economic benefits it provides. Having dual incomes is usually a good indication of living above the poverty line, although there are exceptions, most two-income families can sufficiently provide financially for their family. This financial stability allows for numerous opportunities to participate in school extracurricular, travelling experiences, sports and arts that help children create meaningful friendships, develop social skills and learn how to cope with adversity. Additionally, children at a young age have the opportunity to interact with new people outside of the home. By having two working parents children are usually put into a daycare where they get the opportunity to learn socialization skills with other children, and how to take direction from an elder other than their parents (DelliQuadri, Lauderdale, Anderson, & Cramer, 1978). It is valuable for children to develop these interpersonal communication skills outside of the core family unit. In a dual-earning relationship considering that both parents have a full time job, it can be assumed the couple is ready for a child and can financially support and afford the child. Dual earning couples are often prepared for the child and are capable of raising it in a supportive home with enough money to support them (DelliQuadri, Lauderdale, Anderson, & Cramer, 1978). Another benefit is the job and education opportunities children are rewarded with when their parents are financially able. Often children who graduate from primary education while growing up in a dual working family are afforded better secondary educations than those who come from single working families (Daniel, 2018). A pivotal study done by Ronald Bulanda examines the argument that a children’s quality time with their parents is more important than quantity time. Bulanda suggests that working parents who prioritize family time together and are committed to their child’s wellbeing are just as capable of establishing a healthy bond with their child as non-working parents (2009). Spending copious amounts of time together can not guarantee having a secure, healthy attachment with your child. It requires a combination of factors that are needed in quality not necessary quantity; love, nurturing, commitment, attending to your child’s physical needs and developing a sense of connection to your child (Bulanda, 2009).
Some researchers have suggested that having two full-time working parents is associated with their children’s educational failure, early childbearing, and mental health issues. Research on this issue has argued that a “person’s subjective experiences at work or at home arouse a set of feelings that are brought into the other arena and affect the tenor and dynamics of life in that arena” (Barnett, 1994). This suggests stress or emotional distress that is experienced at work is typically brought into the home influencing the family dynamic. Work-to-family stress is the displacement of anger and frustration from a day job that comes home and gets displaced onto the family in the home. In single-earning couples the male would often be the earner and his stress would come home and be displaced on the wife at home or would not be displaced. With both parents working outside the home, displacement stress can occur from both parents and be deflected onto the opposing spouse as well as the child. (Minnotte, Minnotte, & Pedersen,2013). With the increase of dual-earner relationships, the increase of non-standard working hours has increased. Parents in a dual-earner relationship sometimes try to balance their work hours so that for the majority of the day there is someone at home to be with their child/children. By doing this, parents often have irregular shift hours which has detrimental effects on the parents eventually deflecting onto their child/children. “Shift work is associated with lower marital quality (Yucel, 2008), lower efficiency on the job, poorer sleep, and lower mental health (Yucel, 2008)”. Lower marital quality can cause stress on the child in the home and presents issues for the child like anxiety, isolation and restorting to deviant behavior as an outlet or a cry for attention. This is especially noticeable if the low marital quality results in divorce. Mental health struggles of the parent can have developmental effects on children, causing a separation between the parent and the child, and ultimately affecting their development as they grow up in that environment (Yucel, 2008).
Emotional stability is key to a successful development of a child, in the absence of emotional stability a child’s development risks issues such as delinquency, low self-esteem, problems in school and daycare programs as well as a lower level of well-being (McDaniel & Tepperman, 2007). The ability for a child to bond with their parents is crucial in healthy emotional and social development because it gives them the foundation to feel safe, secure and loved and in turn be able to return these gestures. Thus a parent-child bond is an important predictor of a well developed child. The absence of the parents can result in a child feeling unloved which can cause the child to suffer emotional damage that may be long lasting (McDaniel & Tepperman, 2007). Referring to Bowlby’s theory of attachment a child is likely to suffer distress when separated from their parents and feel loved, secure and confident if they know their parent is nearby. If this is true adequate child development would involve having a parent around for a large portion of the child’s critical development years, or in other words a stay at home parent.
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